WVRC Denies Appeal in Anti-Slaughter Case

The West Virginia Racing Commission (WVRC) has upheld a hearing examiner's finding that the exclusion of a trainer by Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack, and Resort for allegedly violating the track's anti-slaughter policy was reasonable.

The WVRC took the action Sept. 17 by denying an appeal of the ejection by Mark Wedig, who now has the option to appeal the decision in Circuit Court of Kanawha County, W. Va., or in circuit court in the county in which he resides or does business.

Mountaineer, located in Chester, W.Va., has an anti-slaughter policy stating that owners and trainers allotted stalls "shall not directly or indirectly cause a horse to be put to slaughter." That involves vetting third parties before horses are sold to them.

The track said anyone found to have violated the policy "may be subject to a range of penalties, including a loss of his or her stalls, a management exclusion from Mountaineer property, or any additional penalties as may be determined by the West Virginia Racing Commission board of stewards."

The hearing examiner's report states that Mountaineer director of racing Rose Mary Williams determined that Wedig had purchased two horses--Canuki and Cactus Café--for a total of $300 from owner/trainer Barbara Price, who is licensed at Mountaineer and Beulah Park in Ohio. He signed an affidavit saying he "neither directly nor indirectly caused a horse under his ownership to be destroyed" contrary to Mountaineer's policy.

The USDA later determined through documentation the two horses were transported to Canada May 3 of this year, and that on May 18 Wedig had the horses shipped back to the United States at the Niagara Falls, N.Y., port of entry.

Wedig and his attorney have contended the anti-slaughter policy was not violated because the horses weren't slaughtered. The hearing officer determined the trainer violated the policy "more broadly."

About the Author

Tom LaMarra

Tom LaMarra, a native of New Jersey and graduate of Rutgers University, has been news editor at The Blood-Horse since 1998. After graduation he worked at newspapers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania as an editor and reporter with a focus on municipal government and politics. He also worked at Daily Racing Form and Thoroughbred Times before joining The Blood-Horse. LaMarra, who has lived in Lexington since 1994, has won various writing awards and was recognized with the Old Hilltop Award for outstanding coverage of the horse racing industry. He likes to spend some of his spare time handicapping races.

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