From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 1996:
The Shoreline Star greyhound track in Bridgeport, Connecticut,
opened on November 1, drawing dogs and managerial talent from The Woodlands,
a Kansas City-area greyhound track reportedly in economic trouble. By
Thanksgiving, Shoreline Star was in trouble too, with purses averaging circa
$77,000 a night, well below the projected $100,000-$150,000. Attorney Robert Zeff
financed the track––a converted jai alai fronton––with $30 million of his own money.
Zeff previously made headlines in Detroit as subject of two high-profile legal malpractice
cases, one of which Wayne County circuit judge Mariane Battani called “the
worst case of attorney manipulation that I have ever seen,” and as organizer of a
1988 scheme to export hazardous waste to Guinea-Bissau, Africa.
The Cour d’Alene greyhound track in Post Falls, Idaho, went out of
business on December 17, three months to the day after J. Todd Foster of the
Spokane Spokesman Review published a page one expose of abuses causing one trainer
to call it “the Auschwitz of greyhound tracks.” The National Greyhound Adoption
Network and the Spokane activist group Animal Advocates of the Inland Empire
were at deadline seeking homes for 200 to 500 greyhounds who would otherwise be
euthanized. Earlier, similar placement efforts saved hundreds of dogs after track
closings at Harlingen, Texas; Belmont, New Hampshire; and Joplin, Missouri.
Tracks in Alabama, Florida, Iowa, elsewhere in New Hampshire, elsewhere in
Texas, and in Wisconsin are also reportedly close to folding.
Greyhound Network News reports that there are now 53 active greyhound
tracks in the U.S., located in 16 states. Nevada, South Dakota, and Vermont formerly
had greyhound racing, but no longer have active tracks. Vermont, Maine,
and Virginia have banned greyhound racing. GNN is published from POB 44272,
Phoenix, AZ 85064-4272.
The 1996 International Rocky Mountain Stage Stop Sled Dog Race,
running from Jackson to Alpine, Wyoming, will feature a $100,000 purse––and a
new “dog friendly” format. “Rather than a long marathon race, where dogs pull for
extended periods of time, the Stage Stop will be run in stages, like the Tour de
France,” race director Frank Teasley told Team & Trail. “We will have a brand-new
race of between 30 and 80 miles starting each day for the nine racing days of the contest.
Our mushers should always have fresh dogs in their teams.” Eight members of
the International Sled Dog Veterinary Medicine Association will supervise 30 human
contestants, who may bring up to 14 dogs apiece. No more than 12 dogs may compete
on any given day. Each dog will be given an EKG exam before the race, and
will be identified by an injectable microchip. Each musher must be a member in
good standing of PRIDE, described by Team & Trail as “an Alaska-based organization
created to educate mushers on the responsible care and treatment of sled dogs.”
The French horseracing industry, already in decline, reportedly took
heavy losses when employees of the state-run Pari Mutuel Urbain off-track betting
monopoly struck for job security on December 13. The pari mutual unions believe a
computer system upgrade scheduled for 1997 will cost the 1,700-member workforce
several hundred jobs.
The British Horseracing Board, with an annual budget of $30 million,
reportedly donates not one cent to horse welfare work. Racehorse breeding has
recently accelerated in Britain, taking advantage of the growth of the European
horsemeat market to profitably dispose of culls. The 25,500 thoroughbred mares in
Britain produced an estimated 11,500 foals in 1995––far more than racetrack demand
can absorb. The boom recently inspired Cambridge University to appoint horse fertility
expert William Allen as its first “professor of racehorse breeding.”
Gambling and investment stakes in pigeon racing are bigger than ever,
but U.S. participation has fallen from an estimated 100,000 fanciers a generation ago
to barely 20,000 today. Prizes currently peak at around $15,000, but the betting on a
$15,000 race can run as high as $100,000. Although pigeon racing here developed as
a pastime of the poor in crowded immigrant neighborhoods, in England, one pigeon
of proven success recently changed hands for $128,000.
Sugar cane farmer Wa Paopouchong, 41, on October 8 rode an 1,870-
pound water buffalo named Korn to their fourth world championship of water buffalo
racing in Chonburi, Thailand, at an average speed over the 120-meter course of
nearly 25 miles an hour. The victory paid them $200. The event, the only water buffalo
racing meet in the world, has been held for more than a century, but surrounding
festivities have been organized for only the past decade.
An ostrich named Flash Harry won the first-ever ostrich race in
K e n y aon Boxing Day at the Ngong racecourse on the outskirts of Nairobi. Six
ostriches were entered in the 200-meter sprint.