Commission investigates reports of thoroughbred abuse at Saratoga

March 20, 2014
Updated 6:22 p.m.
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— State Gaming Commission officials are investigating reports of thoroughbred abuse at the Saratoga Race Course that were lodged this week by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

On Tuesday, PETA provided the commission with evidence and materials requesting an investigation into the conduct of several licensed individuals who worked at the track during the 2013 meet, including noted trainer Steve Asmussen, his stables, assistant trainer Scott Blasi, attending veterinarians Dr. Joseph F. Migliacci and Dr. James Hunt, and jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr.

Asmussen trained both Curlin and Rachel Alexandra. He won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer in both 2008 and 2009.

“The allegations and footage provided by PETA are extremely troubling and we are fully investigating the matter,” said Robert Williams, the acting executive director of commission in a statment. “PETA has offered to assist the commission in its investigation, and we welcome such cooperation.”

The commission did not immediately detail the abuse that is alleged.

Williams said the commission will be reviewing all footage documenting the allegations. The Office of Veterinary Affairs, led by Equine Medical Director Scott Palmer, is assisting in the investigation.

“The behavior depicted in the undercover video and supporting materials is disturbing and disgusting,” Palmer said “We are working to determine what happened and ensure that proper protocols are put in place to prevent such actions from taking place again.”

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