The fallout from the New York Times report on allegations by PETA of misconduct and abuse by the barn of trainer Steven Asmussen has begun.
And a excellent piece from the Louisville Courier-Journal's Jennie Rees with owner Maggie Moss:
Horse owner Maggi Moss weighs in on PETA | Trackside with C-J Jennie
Scott Blasi, an assitant to Steve Asmussen in the center of many of the allegations, was fired.
Blasi fired by Asmussen following @peta complaints; Blasi, "I understand and respect that decision." http://t.co/msugJlzHB5— Daily Racing Form (@DRFInsidePost) March 22, 2014
First, the New York State Gaming Commission launched a probe into the allegations against Asmussen. Then, according to a report at Blood-Horse.com, owner Ahmed Zayat ordered the scratching of all of his Asmussen-trained horses currently entered in races the weekend of March 22nd and 23rd. From the Blood-Horse report:
Zayat Stable's Justin Zayat said the action to scratch the horses was "pending further investigation from our side with these matters."
Zayat's Nehro was mentioned prominently in the New York Times report on the PETA investigation and Zayat has stated that he knew nothing of the condition of Nehro's feet. From a report by the Daily Racing Form:
"I never, ever, ever knew that Nehro had a foot issue," Zayat said. "Ever."
Zayat said he was "very horrified, very upset" about the allegations made against Asmussen. He said he had not yet spoken with Asmussen but ultimately would. Zayat said he has 10 to 14 horses with Asmussen and has been with him for six or seven years.
"There are two sides to a story – I need to get the other side," Zayat said. "If it looks as it is, I’ll have to remove my horses."
Earlier today, the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in Saratoga, New York, tabled Asmussen's nomination for the 2014 election. From the Blood-Horse article on the tabling of the nomination:
"Based on pending investigations by the New York State Gaming Commission and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission into allegations made by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and reported by various media outlets, the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame has decided it is in the best interests of the institution and the sport of Thoroughbred racing in general to table the 2014 Hall of Fame nomination of trainer Steve Asmussen," the organization said in a one-sentence release.
We'll have to wait and see how this process plays out but it's probably an understatement to call this a "mess".