21 September 2005

Goodbye, Slaughterhouse 1, 2, and 3

In the last chapter of The Home Run Horse by Glenye Cain, I came across a detailed account about the passing of Exceller, who earned over $1.6 million and is the only horse to have beaten two Triple Crown winners in the same race (Seattle Slew and Affirmed in the 1978 Jockey Club Gold Cup.) After a disappointing stud career in the U.S., he was sold to a Swedish breeder at the age of 18. When the breeder went bankrupt, Exceller was sent to the slaughterhouse.

Cain tells Exceller's story well, and she goes on to talk to Arthur Hancock, owner of Gato del Sol, the 1982 Kentucky Derby winner. Hancock had sold Gato to German interests in 1993, but after learning about Exceller's fate, he felt compelled to buy the horse back in 1999. He told the author, "I knew we'd done the right thing. There's no telling what would have happened to him. If you don't have a feel for the horses, if it's just a commodity ... I think somewhere, when you do the right thing by them, it comes back to you for the good."

If that's true, there's some good coming the Senate's way after a vote on Tuesday passing an amendment to the Department of Agriculture Appropriations Bill to end federal funding for mandated meat inspectors at the three remaining, foreign-owned horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. The bill has already passed in the House, and if signed into law by the President, it would effectively shut down the U.S. slaughterhouses when the 2006 fiscal year begins October 1. More details are available at Thoroughbred Times.

And here's a nod to those Senate members who did right by the horses.