From Race Horse To Main Course Horses are being poached and
slaughtered for their meat on the black market
By JEFF BURNSIDE and TODD WRIGHT
Updated 9:11 PM EDT, Tue, Mar 17, 2009
The story sounds like the summary of bad horror flick.
Dozens of horses disappearing in the dead of night only to be found
stripped of skin and meat on a roadside. Other horses are discovered
butchered in their stables by mortified owners.
But the culprit isn't some half-wolf, half-man abomination that preys on
thoroughbreds during the full moon.
They are poachers from Miami's black market who sell the horses' meat,
which is a popular delicacy among new arrivals from other countries to
the area. The horse meat can go for as much as $20 per pound and based
on the number of bloody horse remains and meat-stripped carcasses found
on the side of dirt roads and in stables across Miami-Dade, harvesting
horses for meat is a lucrative business.
The sale of horse meat for human consumption is illegal in the U.S., but
that hasn't stopped the meat from being in high demand by natives of the
Caribbean, Cuba and other European countries who crave horse cuisine.
Some U.S. cattle ranchers have worked around the law by exporting horses
to Mexico or Canada, where killing horses for dinner is legal.
Fostering some of the boom in slaughterhouses has been the horse-racing
industry and some owners of race horses. Some discard a horse after it's
out-lived its racing life or is injured. They are usually sold to the
first person who offers a few bucks for the animal, as was the case for
Freedom's Flight, a horse rescued during a raid at a Miami area
"Freedom's Flight would have definitely ended up on someone's plate.
Absolutely. And we've seen it too many times," said Richard Cuoto, who
volunteers for the South Florida Society for the Prevention of Cruelty
Freedom's Flight's blood line includes Secretariat and Seattle Slew, two
of the greatest thoroughbreds of all-time. But his wealthy owner, Herman
Heinlein, gave the horse to a handler after it broke a leg in a race at
Gulfstream Park. The handler, Marian Brill, sold Freedom's Flight for
$500, but refuses to say to whom. Police believe Freedom's Flight
eventually ended up at a pony ride show before he wound up at the
"I've already told you, I can't and I won't," she said in an interview
Freedom's Flight's saga and salvation is the exception to the rule,
animal rights advocates said. Other race horses have had a less than
The real horror may be that no arrests have been made in the deaths.
Authorities claim it would be hard to charge someone with a crime
because it's difficult to tell if a horse found butchered on the side of
the road was killed by a poacher or an owner.
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