Those who are against gambling would love to hear that racinos kill horses – but unfortunately for them, the story actually goes in the favour of the racetracks and paints the protestors themselves as the murderers. The Ontario racetracks which saw slot machine games removed from their racino areas when the program was cancelled have reported that thousands of brood mares have been sent to slaughterhouses to be sold as meat since the changes took place, as a direct result of the fact that the industry is no longer able to sustain the population it once had due to falling revenues.
Equine veterinarian Mark Biederman spoke to press this week to talk of his sorrow at the state of the racing industry now that the slot machines have been removed, talking of how many of his clients have been forced into selling their mares for meat. Brood mares are retired racehorses who are used to breed the next generation of race winners, but when the industry starts to go downhill they are the first to suffer – if there is no profit in racing horses, then why both breeding more that might or might not be winners in the future? The expenditure of looking after a mare through the breeding process and pregnancy, and then raising a foal as well, is too much of an investment for many owners to make now.
“The broodmares are the first casualty of the industry,” Biederman explained. “There isn’t any market for them other than going for meat.” He also went on to add that his own business is no longer profitable as the industry winds down and less horses are around in general – a factor that will only get worse as more machines are removed, with the final deadline for all of them to be gone by March 31, 2013. “If the slot program is ultimately cancelled I think that’ll be the death of the industry. I don’t think there will be any way to stay in Ontario. I think you’re gonna have a mass exodus of horses,” he says.