California Racetrack Probing Thoroughbred Auction Sale

The operators of the Golden Gate Fields racetrack near San Francisco, Calif., are investigating how a retired Thoroughbred racehorse wound up for sale at a livestock auction.

Golden Gate Fields General Manager Joe Morris said that a 2-year-old Thoroughbred named New Macho Man retired from racing after sustaining a leg injury. Golden Gate Fields has a policy banning the sale of its retired racing horse at auction, he said. The ban is intended to prevent horses from being bought by so-called “kill buyers” who sell horses for slaughter in Mexico and Canada.

Following his retirement, the New Macho Man's trainer gave the horse to a friend with the stipulation that the animal was only to be used for riding, Morris said.

“It's hard to know what happens (if) somewhere down the line the horse goes to someone else and then to someone else after that,” said Morris.

In New Macho Man's case, the horse was bought for $280 at a Turlock Livestock Auction Yard auction by Megan Gaynes, operator of the southern California-based Auction Horses Rescue. Gaynes said she routinely scours auction venues to prevent horses from being bought by those who would sell them to slaughter. Gaynes used the horse's lip tattoo and an online database to identify where the animal originated. The horse was found to have extreme arthritis in connection with a knee injury.

“He's not going to be able to be ridden at all,” Gaynes said.

Morris said that the track is investigating how New Macho Man wound up at auction. He also said that the racetrack is looking for ways to ensure that its horses are never purchased for the slaughter pipeline.

“We work with trainers to make sure the horses don't go to slaughter, but maybe we need a data base or some other way to track them,” Morris said. “We're looking into what we can do now.”

Meanwhile, New Macho Man is now residing at the Auction Horses Rescue and doing well, Gaynes said.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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