By Tom Precious
The much-anticipated Sept. 24 release by New York regulators of their probe into the care of horses trained by Steve Asmussen is being delayed.
More than 18 months after the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals alleged widespread abuse of horses in Asmussen’s care, the New York Gaming Commission on the morning of Sept. 23 pulled an item from tomorrow’s board meeting that was to address the group’s claims and the subsequent investigation by the state.
“It’s not ready,” agency spokesman Lee Park said of the Asmussen report.
Last January, the commission’s equine medical director, Dr. Scott Palmer, said New York investigators had completed the probe into PETA’s allegations. At the time, he said the agency’s staff had reviewed hundreds of pages of notes and nearly eight hours of video supplied by PETA. He did not give a timetable for the final release of the probe that could lead, depending on the outcome, to sanctions against Asmussen, though industry insiders believed the report would have been out by last spring at the latest.
A parallel investigation by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission concluded in January that the PETA allegations against Asmussen and his assistant, Scott Blasi, were unfounded. Kentucky regulators criticized what they depicted as a heavily edited video of the alleged allegations that were said to have occurred at a stable at Churchill Downs. New York investigators got involved in the matter because of alleged equine abuse that occurred at an Asmussen stable during the 2013 summer meet at Saratoga Race Course. Asmussen has denied the allegations.
Kentucky investigators did not receive eight hours of video. PETA supplied the KHRC with a 22-minute video of events apparently cut from a longer original.
In February, the closely watched investigation in New York was down to the stage of “editing and organizational revision,” according to a characterization given by the Gaming Commission’s executive director Robert Williams to his board.