WHOA, Nelly! Part 2: What’s it About? Who’s in, Who’s out?
Our previous piece on WHOA (Water Hay Oats Alliance) went straight to Lasix, and the problems inherent in the use of that drug in the bodies of horses–most notably, race horses. (Often, this writer hammers out things on-the-spot, because they’re on her mind at the time–and Lasix was right at the front of the grey matter that day, so Lasix and the abuses thereof dominated the one-way discussion.)
So this second installation of, “WHOA, Nelly!” is about WHOA,, itself: those who are involved; and a curious sadness, as we take note of those who are conspicuous by their absence.
Please note here, four things, below. Things that, if you really know me–either as a friend or as someone who’s read my rants over the years–you know that these four things are true. NO budging, no room for argument:
* No one loves horses more than I. Many may love horses as much as I–but no one on this Earth has more of a soul connection to these messengers of God. (Yes, I do believe that they are messengers: to quote the Bedouins, “The wind of Heaven is that which blows between a horse’s ears.” I believe that.
* Ergo, never would I write, think or otherwise voice anything that promotes harm to His horses, the perfect manifestation of God’s creative handiwork. (Yes, I really do believe that.)
* I have zero tolerance for fools, and even-less tolerance for those who rake in boatloads of cash under the (not-so-clever) guise of concern for animal welfare. (e.g., an organization whose asterisked Mission Statement includes the Goal of sterilizing horses to extinction. Not only is that an idiotic proposition– anyone who thinks that, after four million years on this planet–surviving conditions that no human could survive–horses aren’t going anywhere, any time soon. So one man who shares his twisted “vision” with a group of followers doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance against horses, God and Nature. More on this topic at another time.)
So no–no tolerance for fools. And yes, that category, fools, extends to those who see a horse as nothing more than a cash machine–and therefore, have no problem, whatsoever, with sticking a needle into a horse’s rump–in the hopes of giving themselves the advantage. Out one side of their mouths, they bleat, “I love my horses!”–while, with the other side, they’re motioning with one hand, for the groom to stick a needle into one of those beloved horses, and dope her. The other hand has fingers crossed.
(By that same token, the word, fools, applies equally to anyone who calls him/herself a “fan”–but whose wagering strategy and obsession with winning a bet includes a winking tolerance for doping horses.)
* Never in the past would I have said to anyone, that the United States government should have a say in the welfare of horses if I didn’t see clearly that yes, it’s finally time to call in the Cavalry. Go ahead–Google my writings back to 2003, and see things I’ve written on helicopters and America’s wild horses… (The U.S. government proves, over-and-over again, that they can’t even control themselves–so why should I believe that they can or should have a voice in the oversight of the medications problem in American horse racing?)
BUT: simply put, because, like a group of disobedient children whose behavior cannot be controlled-–horse racing in America must be forced to toe the line. These disobedient children have devolved–from rascals, endearing characters straight out of a 1950s Sinatra musical–to criminals who turn a blind eye willingly to the drugging of horses–or participate, outright. All in the name of, “winning.”
Certainly, not all–not even, most–of those involved in horse racing are doping horses. But, because this is a sport that affects interstate commerce–and, like so many arguing children, the states cannot or will not choose to agree–well, Mommy and Daddy (government) has to step in and Just Say NO.
So, no, in general I’m not a big fan of government control, over anything. Chiefly, because, like Tammany Hall, it’s too easy for mere mortals to take sacred laws and find a way to turn a profit for themselves.
But some naughty children have morphed into criminals, and they must be stopped. So this is where I change my tune, about government involvement! (I know, the government breathes a collective Sigh of Relief…) 😉
Who’s Leading the Charge?
Two outstanding gentlemen in Congress have crossed the proverbial aisle to shake hands, and work together. These are our representatives, men whose work on behalf of horses and equine welfare will result in no personal, pecuniary gain. Imagine that: they want only to create an America where horses’ bodies and welfare are respected–and where wagering (and therefore, interstate commerce) assures that there’s a level playing field. Wherein a horse’s odds actually ARE the actual odds–and not based on frog venom or other performance-enhancing drugs. Wink-wink, nudge, nudge.
These two outstanding gentlemen are acting solely because–check this out–it’s the right thing to do.
Rep. Andy Barr (R-Kentucky) and Rep. Paul Tonko (D-New York) announced in May that they are sponsoring the Horse Racing Integrity Act of 2017 (H.R. 2651), and in so doing–they are acting as God’s own mouthpieces. Here’s the press release from Rep. Barr’s office in Frankfort:
And the bill, itself:
…they’re Working with WHOA:
The two honorable gentlemen are working with WHOA to stump on behalf of their–of our–bill, and thereby to assure its passage.
At the heart of this matter sits WHOA (Water, Hay, Oats Alliance)–an organization of humans who are very much at the heart of horse racing. So,
WHOA: What’s it about? Who’s In? Who’s Out?
In the Beginning…in the beginning, God created Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky. Well, He did it through the insight and deep love of Thoroughbreds, a love that dwelt in the heart of a gentleman named, Arthur B. Hancock. In 1910, Mr. Hancock created Claiborne Farm. (I won’t go into details about Claiborne–if you’re a racing fan, you’re well-versed. If you’re not-yet a fan–you need to Google, and learn all you can.)
Mr. Hancock and his wife begat a fine colt, Arthur B. Hancock, Jr.–he who became known and revered as, Bull Hancock. Bull and Waddell Hancock Hancock begat four animal-devoted children, including Arthur B. Hancock, III.
Arthur III and his wife, Staci, are true partners in Life, and in their shared, passionate love for horses. Their Stone Farm in Paris (Kentucky) was founded in 1970, and campaigned such historically-important Thoroughbreds as Menifee, Gato del Sol, Fusaichi Pegasus, Valdez, Risen Star and he-who-was-practically-worshiped-as-a-god-in-Japan–the mighty Sunday Silence. (In no way is this list comprehensive, for Stone Farm has brought more truly great, black-type horses to the American horse racing stage than we can count here.) The Hancock family’s long, historic influence has been at the forefront of horse racing for well-over 135 years.
It is the one-heart, one-mind partnership of Arthur III and Staci that begat WHOA, with the goal of bringing together like-minded people in one place–and working within the industry to work with federal government, to get horse-protecting legislation passed. Legislation that would safeguard both the health of horses involved in racing–and, ultimately, rebuild and protect the integrity of this sport. (WHOA’s full Mission Statement is provided at the bottom of this article.)
So, Who’s On-Board?
It’s impossible to list here, everyone who’s affiliated with WHOA as of this writing. They are many, including some of horse racing’s most influential and deeply-entrenched participants–and simple folk, like this writer, who just want to be on record as standing with WHOA, and The Cause. An abbreviated list of international and American racing Influencers includes (but is not limited to:) IFHA Chairman, Louis Romanet; Penny Chenery; Charlotte C. Weber; Marylou Whitney; John Hendrickson; Gretchen Jackson; Roy Jackson; Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and First Lady, Jane Beshear; Monty Roberts; Triple Crown jockeys, Jean Cruguet, Ronnie Turcotte and Steve Cauthen; Edgar Prado; Frank Stronach; Chris McCarron; Jonathan Sheppard; Cot Campbell; Bobby Flay; PEB–well, the list goes on and on. It’s very encouraging, to see how many of horse racing’s longest-established and most successful participants all believe that: there’s no room in horse racing for abusing horses.
And that abuse includes drugging the very animal whose fidelity, loyalty, love, grit and heart brings both victory and joy to human souls every time they barrel down a home stretch.
Whether Seabiscuit or someone’s homebred, beloved f!lly–there’s NO room for tolerance of doping horses. Zero.
Supporters of WHOA don’t do so in secret: to see the list of those who support WHOA and the campaign to create a national board to oversee the testing and strict regulation of medications in horse racing in America, all you have to do is check out WHOA’s website: http://waterhayoatsalliance.com/
On the homepage: click the button, Supporters, which will take you to the page that lists some of racing’s most prominent owners, breeders, trainers, bloodstock agents, jockeys and administrators.
“But Can I Join??” You Ask…
Now, back on the homepage: click the word, JOIN. YOU can join–it’s FREE–and the one-minute application will put your name and your voice on the list. You’ll take a stand, as you demonstrate to horses and the horse world that: you love horses; you care enough to voice your objections to doping–and that you won’t tolerate the abusive misuse of medications in horse racing.
You can see, also, the names of everyone else who’s a member. (Ooh! Big Fun!) 🙂 You can even scour the lists according to states, and international members.
You’ll see your own name there, after you join.
Hopefully, you’ll see also, the names of friends and colleagues.
And those whose names aren’t there–you have to ask yourself,
New York, Where are You?
I grew up in New York State. I’ve lived in Atlanta, Lexington and Massachusetts. But at my heart, I am a New Yorker. My first horseback riding moments, and trips to Saratoga Race Course–happened here.
I used to be very proud to be part of the New York racing community. In my naivete, it felt like a family to me.
But, looking at the WHOA membership list–I’m confused, embarrassed and, yes, angered.
I know it’s not the Truth, but I fear that it looks to the outside world that New York–the city and state that harbored the heretofore-referenced “rascals” (romanticized gangsters and such, who weren’t above fixing a race)–well, I’m afraid that, to everyone in Kentucky, the rest of America and the world–it looks like…we still condone using Whatever Means Necessary.
Just to win a freakin’ race, for God’s Sake.
New York horse racing leaders, you are conspicuous by your absence. Yes, some of our racing leaders (like, Mrs. Whitney and John Hendrickson; Bobby Flay; Theresa Behrendt and Seth Benzel) are on the lists. But…where are you others, New Yorkers
Are you behind WHOA’s efforts, but you’re afraid to add your name, voice and face? Are you not behind The Cause, and hoping that no one notices?
News Flash: we’ve noticed.
And really, those are the only two sides available: either you’re with WHOA, Rep. Andy Barr, Rep. Paul Tonko and our horses–or you’re not.
Pick a side. And throw your heart into it: if you’re with us, let your voice be heard.
If you’re NOT with WHOA, and therefore, on the Side of the Angels—strap yourselves in, because you’re in for a profoundly strong battle. Good will always, ultimately, win out over evil–and, New Yorkers, if you can’t see that doping horses is evil, and are willing to SAY so–then you are enabling the broken system. Ergo, if you enable a broken system–then you, yourself, are irreparably broken.
And I’m almost as sorry for you as I am for the horses who suffer because of your enabling and benign neglect. Almost as sorry–but really, not so much.
WHOA’s Mission Statement:
In a Battle for the Soul of Our Sport:
Take a stand for clean racing to protect
our horses, the breed, the jockeys and our future
The Water Hay Oats Alliance (WHOA) is a grassroots movement of like- minded individuals who support the passage of federal legislation to prohibit the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the sport of horse racing. The appointment of an independent anti-doping program run by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) will solve the problem of widespread drug use in American racing and put U.S. racing jurisdictions in step with international standards.
Doping destroys public confidence in racing, defrauds the betting fan, weakens the genetic pool and, most importantly, puts the life and limb of our equine athletes and their jockeys at risk. It is obvious that after years of committee review and discussion, America’s racing industry cannot police itself by eliminating the proliferation of performance-enhancing drugs in our sport, nor does it possess the power to adequately punish the purveyors of these drugs
Founded in 2012, WHOA is a group of like-minded Owners, Breeders, Trainers, Jockeys, Equine Practitioners, Industry Professionals, Handicappers and Racing Fans who stand against the permissive use of performance enhancing drugs in American horse racing.
Still photograph, “Fugue for Tinhorns,” from Guys and Dolls. Courtesy, Samuel Goldwyn Productions/MGM
United States Capitol. Courtesy, United States Congress
Music in Motion (Horse statue). Courtesy, Linda Biggers. http://www.eggshellmosaicart.com/images/music-in-motion-2
WHOA, Nelly! Part 3: Arabian Horse Racing, its strong anti-doping policies and the amazing, horse-loving people who make it work.