There is no provision in Question 1, the casino referendum on Nov. 7, to fund retirement homes for harness-racing horses at the end of their careers. Horses can live up to 30 years, but most harness-racing horses stop making money for their owners at about 10 years of age, if not sooner, because of injuries, arthritis, lameness, and chronic pain incurred during years of harness racing.

Classified as livestock by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, unwanted trotter horses and thoroughbreds are routinely loaded onto trucks, where they begin a terrifying journey of 30 hours or more without food or water to slaughterhouses in Canada or Mexico.

According to an article that appeared in the Bangor Daily News on July 13, the future of harness racing in Bangor is uncertain because of declining revenues. Despite the efforts of the Maine State Harness Racing Commission, under the jurisdiction of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry, as well as similar state commissions across this country, declining attendance reports paint harness racing and horse racing as dying industries, much like greyhound racing, on life support and kept alive by state-mandated taxpayer subsidies from the proceeds of slot machines and casinos with no provision made for the retirement of the horses.

Val Philbrick


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