UPDATE: Disgraced jockey Roman Chapa, a serial abuser of horses used for racing, has pleaded guilty to lying to an investigator about a photo allegedly showing him holding an electric-shock device during a 2015 race. Because of this plea, he has been placed on probation—or “community supervision” as it’s known in Texas—for 10 years.
In 2015, the Sam Houston Race Park in Texas suspended Chapa for five years and fined him $25,000 for multiple violations related to his alleged possession of the device during that year’s race. The Texas Racing Commission then increased that fine to a hefty—and an entirely deserved—$100,000.
Chapa has previously been suspended from racing twice for using shock devices and for using a nail on a horse. He’s also been fined for whipping a horse in the face and served 10 days in jail on a plea agreement after authorities said he beat a dog with a strap.
We’re relieved that Chapa won’t be able to torment horses, including Quiet Acceleration—the one he rode in the 2015 race—anytime soon. And we hope his guilty plea sends a shock of its own through an industry in which animal abuse is rampant and often goes unpunished. As more and more decent people speak up in their behalf, the animals it exploits and mistreats will all get the justice that they deserve.
Posted January 26, 2015:
UPDATE: The Harris County, Texas, district attorney has acted on evidence that jockey Roman Chapa used an electric shock device during a race on January 17 and has filed a felony charge against the jockey. Chapa has previously been suspended from racing twice for using shock devices, suspended for using a nail on a horse, fined for whipping a horse in the face, and served 10 days in jail on a plea agreement after authorities said he beat a dog with a strap. In video footage captured by PETA’s investigator, Asmussen assistant trainer Scott Blasi indicated that he was well aware of Chapa’s use of shock devices when he joked about an incident in which Chapa hid one in his mouth: “That silly-ass Roman Chapa put it in his mouth in New Mexico. They came in to shake him down, he stuck it in his mouth, then he spit it out in his wash bucket.” In its investigation of PETA’s complaints, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission did not talk to Chapa but instead interviewed D. Wayne Lukas—who is a member of the commission—about his statement on video that he used buzzers years earlier. There is no indication in its report that the commission questioned Asmussen about his frequent use of a jockey who has been suspended twice for using shock devices, nor apparently does the commission believe Blasi’s own statement in the video that he once asked jockey Ricardo Santana, “You got the machina?” referring to a shock device.
Originally posted January 15, 2015:
Perhaps unsurprisingly, despite PETA’s undercover video showing that horses in thoroughbred trainer Steve Asmussen’s barn were forced to run even though sore or injured, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission decided on Thursday to take no action against him whatsoever.
In March of 2014, PETA released nearly 10 minutes of footage that showed Asmussen’s hired hands and his assistant, Scott Blasi, engaging in what we believe to be the misuse of drugs and other possible rule violations at Churchill Downs and Saratoga Race Course. Yet even with extensive evidence, chairman of the Racing Commission, Bob Beck, said that PETA’s findings could not be substantiated.
The Commission did not comment on Finesse, a filly who collapsed and died on a Louisiana track soon after PETA’s investigation was released last year, or on the two horses, Mr. Classic Seneca and Exit West, who were injured and vanned off the track in the last two weeks.
Investigations by New York and federal officials continue.
Kathy Guillermo, Senior Vice President at PETA released a statement on the decision:
“The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has today distinguished itself for being as uninterested in horse welfare as the Syrian government is in human suffering. If there was nothing wrong in the documentation that PETA found, then something is very wrong with racing in Kentucky. A responsible enforcement agency would have examined the mountains of evidence—including sore horses who were drugged rather than allowed to recover from strained muscles and ligaments and 3-year-old horses who were made sore every day of their lives—and concluded that significant wrongdoing occurred. Perhaps the New York State Gaming Commission, which is still conducting an investigation, will do just that. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, however, saw smoke and concluded that there is not only no fire but also that everything at the track and in Asmussen’s disgraceful barn is just business as usual.”