As a Maine citizen and Standardbred harness horse owner, it was disheartening and disappointing to see any Maine newspaper publish a Maine Monitor article written by Boston University students who likely have never stepped foot in a Standardbred barn, farm or racetrack.

The Jan. 30 article “There’s an ugly side to Maine harness racing” was one sided. Their numbers demonstrate that Maine harness racing is monitoring, regulating and fining owners and trainers for rule violations of prohibited substances, whipping and kicking. It did not include any interviews with Standardbred owners or trainers to verify that, fortunately, racing rules and testing are much stricter than decades ago.

What does Patrick Battuello of Horseracing Wrongs know about training or weaning Standardbred horses, i.e., they are “thrust” into intensive training at 18 months and “torn” (as the reporters paraphrased him) from their mothers? Did the writers visit any barn or stable to see how well these horses are cared for 24/7? They do not perform well if not well cared for, just like draft, show and other equines that compete for ribbons and prize or purse money. It is unfair to focus only on harness racing. Visit a Standardbred barn and with owners, trainers or caretakers before labeling harness racing “ugly.”

Harness racing preserves open farm space and contributes millions of dollars to the Maine economy. Hay farmers; feed and grain stores; farrier and vet services, and tack and horse suppliers all benefit, including the livelihood and jobs for thousands of Mainers, proving it should continue as a valuable and essential part of Maine agriculture.

Martha Holden
North Bridgton

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