Today in Harnesslink, there is a story about how kill buyers are showing up on the backstretch at Monticello Raceway, buying horses that are no longer competitive for a couple of hundred dollars each. Often these people are con artists, claiming to be looking for carriage horses or even a pleasure horse.
Owners, who often are looking to get these horses into good homes are more than willing to sell these horses to these people, because not only do they get rid of an expense, they get a couple of hundred dollars at the same time.
While there are some horsemen who are conned, no doubt there are some horsemen who don't do their due diligence and sadly, there are those who believe in 'don't ask, don't tell'.
My question is, how are these people getting on the grounds of the racetracks in the first place? If they don't have a license, they don't belong there. If they are coming in with someone else with a license they should be required to have a license as well. More importantly, if they don't have a horse stabled on the grounds or racing at that particular time, why are they even being allowed on the grounds unescorted? If they have no legitimate business on the backstretch and they have a NYSRWB license, the person they are seeing should have to come get the person at the gate and be responsible for their actions.
The dirty secret is while some tracks hold horsemen responsible which they should, the tracks are just as complicit when it comes to kill buyers. The tracks know what is going on and they turn their heads away when these kill buyers come on the grounds of the backstrech, just as guilty as the trainer who sells the horse for a couple hundred dollars without asking questions.
The sad thing is you may think this is happening only at the smaller tracks, but that is far from the case. If there is a racetrack, there are kill buyers who come through, especially on qualifying days.
Tracks need to do their part as well when it comes to kill buyers. No license, no access to the backstretch without being accompanied by a licensee who has reason to be on the backstretch. You have a license, you don't get on the grounds of the track unless you are trainer or an owner who has been racing at the particular meet or a groom on a stable roster. A horse leaving the grounds? Not without the owner or trainer of record driving the trailer.
Let's not kid ourselves, if someone wants to sell to a killer, they will find a way to do so, but the tracks shouldn't make it easy for these low lifes. Everyone should be held responsible for what happens to their horses, but the tracks need to do their part. Something most tracks are not doing.