Maine Harness Racing has an ugly side

Maine harness racing does, in fact, have an ugly side


NOTE:  Link onto the Maine Monitor’s excellent article: “There’s an ugly side to Maine harness racing”, then on the letter criticizing it, then read this letter below debunking the harness racing industry, and lastly, on the link to another recent article on how the state subsidizes the industry. 


Portland Press Herald, Posted February 21, 2023

This is in response to a recent letter criticizing a Maine Monitor article published in the Press Herald on Jan. 30 (“There’s an ugly side to Maine harness racing”). The letter’s author writes: “Maine harness racing is monitoring, regulating and fining owners for rule violations of prohibited substances and whipping and kicking.” The real issue is that there is no oversight – the harness racing industry regulates itself. The proverbial fox is in the henhouse.

Drugging has a long and shady past in the industry. The issues of excessive whipping and illegal kicking have been going on unabated forever. The fines are a well-known “price of doing business.”

The letter writer also claimed the animals are well-cared for – the ones that win. The animals are bred and trained to race. If they lose, then the owner loses money and the ugly secret is that many losers end up in slaughterhouses in Quebec. The animal is a commodity.

In the original article, former state Rep. Don Marean, a longtime lobbyist for the Maine Harness Racing Association, noted an annual donation by the industry of $5,000 for the care of unwanted horses, which speaks volumes in thinking such a pittance is altruistic. He also said that the “harness racing industry pays for itself,” which is just false. The state continues to subsidize this activity that is outdated and cruel and has drastically faded in popularity.

Robert Fisk Jr.
founder and president,
Maine Friends of Animals


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