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Horse track with no rules

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Tlazolteotl View Drop Down

Joined: 02 Oct 2012
Location: Australia
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    Posted: 06 Aug 2022 at 8:23am

On-track drug injections, shock devices and a dead jockey: A “bush track” in Georgia is one of dozens that profit outside the reach of regulation.

MILNER, Ga. — In this population-800 town in rural Georgia, where residents along winding country roads fly the Stars and Stripes and Trump banners, there’s a horse track on a pecan farm that raises only one flag: that of Mexico.

The spectators show up for race days every couple of weeks, Latino cowboys and their families arriving in late-model pickup trucks with license plates from Georgia and Alabama, Guerrero and Monterrey. Admission at the door is $100 per head in cash, collected before a cadre of armed guards search vehicles. Inside, Norteño music blends with the scent of tacos, and an announcer calls the races in profane Spanish.

But the prerace routines at Rancho El Centenario are a little different — or at least more transparent — than at a mainstream racehorse track.

One muggy day in July, when a young horse trainer in a patterned shirt and trucker hat sauntered onto the track with a syringe in hand, fans crowded the rail to get a glimpse. A jockey guided a quarter horse named Chiquibaby over to the trainer, who jabbed the needle into the horse’s neck and pushed the plunger before jumping away.

“Bring another for me!” cried out a Modelo-clutching railbird in Spanish, referring to the syringe full of mystery substances, eliciting laughter from the other fans and the trainer.

When asked about the injection following the race, the trainer said the syringe didn’t contain performance-enhancing drugs but medicine to prevent a horse from suffering a stroke or a heart attack.

But before another race that day, a reporter for The Washington Post watched a different trainer inject a horse named El Mago near the end of the 500-yard track. After that trainer tossed the syringe in the dirt, the reporter collected it and later submitted it to Industrial Laboratories, an accredited horse racing testing facility in Colorado. Its findings: The syringe contained methamphetamine and methylphenidate, the stimulant sold as Ritalin.

A few hundred years ago, match races like Rancho El Centenario’s were part of the genesis of the American quarter horse, a compact breed developed for its intense speed on a short, straight track. After racing commissions brought order to the sport in states where it was legal, unregulated “bush tracks” remained the norm in Mexico, popular among cowboys and narcos alike. In the United States, though, they existed only as a wild but minor foil to the rulemakers.

But now, experts and horsemen say, the bush circuit is quietly in a boom period, one in which animal abuse and doping go largely unchecked, hinting at deeper criminality and posing a potentially serious threat to the integrity of the breed.

Since a disbarred attorney named Arthur “Brutz” English IV had a red dirt track pounded into the land of his fourth-generation family farm nine years ago, Rancho El Centenario has showcased the chaos and the profitability of such an operation.

English’s track is a scavenger of legitimate racing, in horses and personnel. A champion quarter horse that sold at auction for nearly half a million dollars regularly races at the track. A well-known jockey pushed out of regulated racing because of his serial use of banned electric shock devices also found refuge at Rancho El Centenario — until he died following an accident while racing there.

For years, there have been hints that the horsemen of Rancho El Centenario are utilizing practices that would incur serious discipline at a regulated track. For instance: After deputies pulled over a horseman on his way to the track in 2019, a police report shows, they discovered boxes of amphetamine and anabolic steroids in the back of his Mazda.

Other times it’s more than a hint. On a visit to the races last month, during which journalists for The Post witnessed horses being injected before races, they also observed the day’s winningest jockey wearing a shock device of the sort banned in mainstream racing.

And though betting on horses is illegal in Georgia, apparent bookies ambled along the track, calling out bets before race

Unbeknown to English and his Mexican cowboy clientele, however, there has been since last year a third party to the culture clash: animal rights activists.

Over eight visits to Rancho El Centenario between June 2021 and April 2022, undercover investigators for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals collected hidden-camera footage of all of this conduct and more: gambling, injections, shock devices, repeated whipping and horses dying on the track.



s and distributing the winnings from stacks of cash afterward.

"Two hundred years ago, 99.999 percent of human idiocy went unrecorded. Now we have the Internet."

Errol Morris
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Sister Dot View Drop Down

Joined: 24 Nov 2009
Status: Offline
Points: 3973
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sister Dot Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Aug 2022 at 9:30am
Distressing, I hate what humans do to animals, when animals especially dogs and horses, are so good to us Cry
“Where in this wide world can man find nobility without pride, friendship without envy, or beauty without vanity? Here where grace is laced with muscle and strength by gentleness confined”
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