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Cruelty takes lives of horses in Pakistan

By BRANT JAMES

© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 6, 2001


Those who enjoy or profit from thoroughbred racing often defend it by trumpeting the inherent beauty and majesty of the sport.

Those who oppose it cite what they believe is institutional animal cruelty for entertainment and financial gain.

Critics may never have a stronger example than what is unfolding at Kurachi Race Club in Pakistan.

The government closed the track in March after a dispute over licensing fees, and almost 250 of the more than 600 horses housed on the 250-acre facility have been abandoned to die.

Water and electricity have been cut off, and crippled, famine-stricken horses have developed colic from eating their dung.

Fifty have died.

The track closed when the Jockey Club of Pakistan refused to pay a $30,000 fee the Sindh government levied. Jockey Club spokesman Yousuf Dada told the Associated Press that the government -- presumably under pressure from Islamic groups -- had refused to guarantee that racing, and therefore gambling, would resume even if the fee were paid.

A few owners have stood by their horses, and some trainers have stayed on without pay. But the suffering continues on a massive scale, among horses with unremarkable records and among those, including Flag of Pakistan, that were among their country's proudest months ago, when racing and betting made their lives valuable.

"Without anyone to look after it, the horse will not survive for long," jockey Sajjad Ali told the Associated Press of Flag of Pakistan.

The Jockey Club of Pakistan can be reached at Deh Seforan, Gulistan-e-jauhar, University Road, Karachi 75290.

NTRA POLL: Point Given used the memory of his wins in the Preakness and Belmont to remain atop the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's all-ages poll for the third straight week.

A four-time winner in five starts this year, he easily outdistanced Albert The Great, a 4-year-old colt who jumped from fifth after a two-length win last weekend in the Grade II $500,000 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park.

Tiznow, the 2000 Horse of the Year, was third in the poll.

WINNERS: Captain Steve plummeted four spots to sixth in the poll after finishing fourth in the five-horse Hollywood Gold Cup last weekend, but owner Mike Pegram would likely not trade that spot for the one his 4-year-old enjoys: atop the money leaders list.

With two wins and a second in four starts, Captain Steve has amassed $4,111,200. A victory in the Dubai World Cup at Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in March was worth $3.6-million alone.

Point Given has the glory but only $1,850,000 in purses as the next-best earner.

Bob Baffert leads all trainers with $10,355,192, twice the total of second-place Bobby Frankel ($4,884,419). Baffert, the trainer of Point Given, has 65 wins, 55 seconds and 39 thirds in 313 starts.

Jerry Bailey remains the world's most successful jockey, with $7,299,519 in purses. He has 116 wins, 104 seconds and 77 thirds in 482 starts this year.

Pat Day, in second with $6,822,929, has used volume to amass his money. Day has 156 wins, 109 seconds and 107 thirds in 672 mounts. Busy Edgar Prado (834) and John R. Velazquez (698) are the only jockeys in the top 10 with more starts.

HEADS UP: Seems the bobblehead doll craze has taken over thoroughbred racing. Hollywood Park gave away slightly less than scale Chris McCarron figurines during Gold Cup day Sunday, which seemed to give him luck. He rode Futural to victory. Trouble was, stewards left his head shaking for real when they ruled McCarron had veered left in midstretch and bumped Skimming, who was running even for the lead with Futural.

Futural placed third, behind Aptitude, and Skimming was moved up to second.

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