Two of the rescue horses currently in our member farm network are Standardbred horses who featured prominently in front page headlines of Maine’s largest newspaper December 18th. NLHR advocates for aftercare of these Standardbred racehorses in Maine, making front page headlines in the Maine Sunday Telegram with a story entitled, “Casino funds could offer hope for retired harness racing horses.” Read the story and our subsequent OpEd response to witness the lively conversation on this challenging issue, and our vision for a next-generation spin-off of the industry that could revitalize both the racing and the extended community at large.
NLHR Founder and Executive Director Joy Cutrone inquired of investigative reporter Colin Woodard to research the subject of aftercare for retiring Standardbred racehorses in Maine. Maine’s racehorse industry features Standardbred pacers and trotters, and enjoys greater or lessor success in collaboration with the casinos in the state depending on their regional center. One of the racinos is set to close its doors permanently. Woodard delved into the issue in the context of the pending closure of the racetrack, the continued investment of millions of dollars in a declining industry in the state, and the fate of the racehorses who the industry retires with no clear path to safety.
We propose a spin-off of the industry – an aftercare facility for retired Standardbreds – that could generate similar jobs and help energize the economy in groundbreaking ways. Opponents were cited as minimizing the problem, declaring the need for aftercare in Maine as being confined to only the 5 or 6 Standardbred horses who deteriorate to such a level of abuse as to require law enforcement intervention each year, instead of inclusive of the other 195 racehorses retired in the state each year. The fate of racehorses is part of a larger national discussion, which is handled to a better or worse degree by other regions. Read more about the article here, and our OpEd response to it here, which again emphasizes the potential benefits to the community as a whole of our vision for an aftercare facility “spin-off” of the industry.