By Press Release — The following is a letter from Executive Vice President Bridgette Jablonsky, V.M.D. of Hanover Shoe Farms announcing the establishment of a $250,000 matching fund grant to support the work of restoring full integrity to the harness racing industry.
To All Industry Participants:
I hope this letter finds you well and withstanding the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. I know that you all join me in eagerly waiting for racing to resume and life to return to some semblance of normal. I have used some of the time normally spent watching races and following entries and results to reflect on the criminal proceedings revealed to us on March 9, 2020.
My initial reaction was, “What a terrible day for this business.” Upon further reflection, however, I find that my initial reaction was completely off base. This was a good day for our business. We will not survive unless the cheaters and wrongdoers are identified and exiled.
I will footnote this by saying that the defendants in these proceedings are presumed innocent until they either admit their guilt or are found guilty in a court of law. If any are innocent, I hope their names are cleared with no lasting ill effects, but all of those who are found guilty of the heinous acts depicted in the indictments should be punished and never allowed to touch a horse again.
This brings me to the point of this letter, which is meant to be a hopeful and positive one in these times of darkness:
One useful thing we have learned from the criminal indictments is that high-powered investigative services appear to be necessary to aid the racing commissions in investigating wrongdoing by (1) gathering evidence in a timely and efficient manner, and (2) presenting that evidence in a form that will fully support the authorities that have the power to exile the cheaters.
Other new approaches may be needed to make our industry more responsive to and supportive of the racing commissions. I have discussed this with USTA President Russell [Williams], and Hanover Shoe Farms pledges $250,000 as a matching grant to support the work of restoring full integrity to our sport. The term of this pledge is 12 months, beginning on the day Standardbred racing resumes in 2020.
Hanover Shoe Farms is a nursery. We raise our babies with love and dedication to their well-being. When we sell them, it’s as if we are sending them off to college, releasing them out into the world to hopefully make us and their new owners proud. Above all, however, I hope that they enjoy doing what they were born to do and are being treated well.
Reading the indictments grieved me deeply, because it was so plainly obvious that some horses are not treated well, nor even humanely. We hope that major financial support will stimulate better practices within the industry and go a long way toward procuring a brighter and safer future for our horses.
Our approach will only work if it earns broad industry participation, and if we come up with effective new approaches to ensuring integrity. Please join us in this fight against cheating and abuse. It will save our industry, it will save lives and eliminate suffering, and it will stop the ill-gotten gains of a select few who think the rules don’t apply to them.
For further information, contact Russell Williams at [email protected].
I hope everybody stays safe and healthy, and I can’t wait to see you at the tracks and the sales this fall.