After seeing a picture of a deceased Mountaineer race horse in a local landfill I can no longer withhold my concerns. This photograph conveys the condition of those responsible for management and oversight of the racing industry in West Virginia.
There is no accountability or interest in assuring a quality product for the fans, horse owners, trainers or others involved in the sport. This includes the Racing Commission, Governor, Legislature, state government bureaucracy and racetrack management.
Based on personal experience, after being appointed to the Racing Commission, I observed a general lack of interest and commitment. Meetings were not held on a regular basis, often attendance was by telephone, meeting agendas were mostly “housekeeping” matters and there was a rush to adjourn. It seemed enforcement of rules and regulations was not “top of mind.” Serious issues were avoided.
The Executive Director was pre-occupied and not held accountable. Technology was outdated and held hostage by it’s manager who was the only person in the organization who knew how to operate the system. Licensing records and issues were either months behind or not coordinated with the Association of Racing Commissioners International. More importantly there was no interest in professional training for the staff. In fact, just after I arrived I recall a horse was “apparently killed” at Mountaineer and it took several days before anyone visited the track to start an investigation.
Bringing about change was next to impossible when there were only three Commissioners…as the old saying goes “it takes two to tango.” In fairness my fellow Commissioners joined me in asking to have our tracks accredited by the Safety & Integrity Alliance of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. A team of experts conducted an audit. My appointment to the Commission was rescinded. The report was never publicity released nor to my knowledge implemented. An excellent example of lack of interest and accountability.
Let’s pray this unfortunate horse laid to rest in a garage dump will serve as a wake up call for the West Virginia Racing Commission.