With regards to the proposed ordinance, An Act to Allow Slot Machines or a Casino in York County, Question 1, which will appear on the November ballot, there is no provision in the ordinance to fund retirement homes for harness racing horses at the end of their careers [The proposed ordinance stipulates that an allotted 10 percent of a mandatory 39 percent of net slot machine income must be distributed to a fund that to supplement harness racing purses — ed.).

Horses can live up to 30 years, but most harness-racing horses stop making money for their owners at about ten years of age, if not sooner, due to injuries, arthritis, lameness, and chronic pain incurred during years of harness racing.

Despite the stereotype of pampered retired horses frolicking in green pastures on family farms, horses used in harness racing and thoroughbred racing horses often wind up on the auction block where they are sold to pull carriages in Amish villages or to be served as a delicacy in restaurants abroad. Classified as livestock by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, these horses are loaded onto trucks where they begin a terrifying journey of 30 hours or more without food or water to slaughterhouses in Canada or Mexico. Oftentimes, during the journey, the horses are injured due to the cramped quarters inside the trucks.

According to an article that appeared in the Bangor Daily News on July 13, 2017, the future of harness racing in Bangor is uncertain due to declining revenues. Harness racing and horse racing are dying industries, which are kept alive by taxpayer subsidies from the proceeds of slot machines and casinos. Vote no on Question 1 until provisions are made for the retirement of harness racing horses in Maine.

Val Philbrick

Scarborough, ME

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