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Tax Court Judge Suggests Owner Send Retired Racehorses To Slaughter

Aug 15, 2023

Perhaps best known for his work on the Michael Jackson estate, Tax Court Judge Mark Holmes is often regarded as eloquent in his appraisal of cases before him.

However, when creating a bench opinion on the case of Joseph G. Bucci, his writing became a bit uncouth. Bucci, the owner of American Rock Salt, was facing tax and accuracy penalties of $711,980 for 2016 and 2017, mainly in reference to his Thoroughbred racing and breeding business, which the IRS had deemed a hobby rather than a business.

Judge Holmes sided with the IRS at Bucci's hearing, at which Bucci represented himself. Though Judge Holmes commended Bucci on his founding of American Rock Salt, his main focus was that Bucci chose to house his retired racehorses on his property when they were done racing and being “profitable.”

Judge Holmes noted that sending the horses to Canada or Mexico for slaughter would have made more economic sense in Bucci's case. He said that most racehorse owners who have horses that are incapable of racing will find a way to get their horses to Canada or Mexico for slaughter or “glue factories” (slaughter is legal in both Canada and Mexico).

However, it is evident that “most” racehorse owners do not export their horses for slaughter – or glue factories, of which very few use any equine body parts to make glue today. Many industry players stand in solidarity against equine slaughter, including The Jockey Club, the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, and the New York Racing Association, among others.

Many tracks, including Delta Downs and Evangeline Down, owned by Boyd Gaming, have written rules to punish those who send horses to slaughter by permanently denying the owner or trainer stalls at their tracks.

Read more at Forbes.