Return to dirt track understandable, but disappointing
I love Keeneland. So I was disappointed and a little angry to learn that it plans to switch back to a dirt track, despite the fact that statistics have shown that polytrack is better for the safety of the horses.
However, after reading Andrew Beyer's commentary, I understand the reasons behind it. I still don't like it, and I'm not convinced it's necessary, but I understand why Keeneland is doing it. For what it's worth, I'm not so angry as a result.
Beyer, the racing writer for The Washington Post, said that "the push for synthetic surfaces in 2006 was ill-considered, hasty and a bit arrogant." I don't think that is true at all. Rather, it was high-minded, thoughtful and exemplified what leaders are supposed to do: lead.
Beyer faults Keeneland for trying to change the sport, when he should fault other tracks for failing to do the right thing. Keeneland can't be faulted if the owners and CEOs of other tracks are short-sighted and more concerned with profits than the welfare of horses and jockeys. I applaud the effort, even though it failed.
Polytrack safer for horses
I am confused and disturbed by Keeneland's announcement that it will destroy its state-of-the-art synthetic track and replace it with dirt. The Jockey Club just released statistics proving that synthetic racetracks are far safer for horses than dirt or turf. And Keeneland is currently one of the safest courses in the country.
The Jockey Club found that dirt surfaces cause horses to fatally break down six times more often than synthetic tracks do. That's a risk Keeneland is willing to take apparently, reportedly in order to better its chances of hosting the Breeders' Cup.
As a native Kentuckian, a University of Kentucky graduate and Lexington resident for 15 years, I find that display of greed and cruelty appalling.
I've eaten countless meals at Harry's surrounded by silks and racing photographs, admired the horse sculptures all over town, and smiled at yearlings romping in the fields. So it makes no sense to me that a town whose welcome sign proclaims, "The Horse Capital of the World," would seemingly have so little interest in protecting the real animals behind all the fanfare.
I recently moved to Florida, and I've always been proud to say that I'm from Kentucky. But this display of profit over principles is making me less so.
Where's UK's climate plan?
University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto never fails to react to students when they are drinking too much during tailgating or terrorizing the streets of Lexington after a basketball game.
However, he seems to turn a blind eye when students seek answers about real issues regarding their campus.
One real issue students are concerned with is campus sustainability. UK draws its energy from Kentucky Utilities and burns coal and natural gas at three locations on campus to provide heating and cooling. It is a campus littered with old, inefficient buildings. The reality is that any small steps forward would be progress.
So, in 2012, when the president formed a committee to develop a climate action plan, which would evaluate the university's carbon footprint and set goals for reducing that footprint, environmentally concerned students were thrilled.
Unfortunately, two years later, despite bringing in an outside consultant and involving the director of campus sustainability, no plan has been released.
Students from the UK group Greenthumb, refusing to let the issue drop, have attempted contacting the president via several avenues, but have received nothing but silence in return.
I love my university. I want to see it grow and prosper and be a leader in this state.
Unfortunately, when it comes to sustainability, UK is falling behind. Five other schools — including Louisville, Centre and Transylvania — all have climate action plans and are signatories to the American College and University President's Climate Commitment. Why is UK trailing behind?
Closing traumatizes area
On April 3, Fruit of the Loom announced that it was permanently closing its Jamestown factory and laying off 600 workers as "part of the company's ongoing efforts to align its global supply chain."
In other words, it is opening a plant in Honduras in order to increase profits by paying its new employees less than $2 an hour, assuming they decide to pay above minimum wage.
Fruit of the Loom is well aware that they provide one-third of all manufacturing jobs in Russell County. As of February, the county's unemployment rate was at 11.5 percent, and Fruit of the Loom will single-handedly cause that unemployment rate to skyrocket to as high as 18.9 percent.
To add insult to injury, a mere two days before the announced layoffs Fruit of the Loom released a fake April Fools' Day commercial advertising the "Undie Iron" which promises to "smooth undie creases and frowns in seconds."
I doubt that the "Undie Iron" will ever succeed in smoothing the frowns of the 600 soon-to-be-unemployed residents of Russell County.
Guns little aid at Ft. Hood
Another tragic shooting at Fort Hood demonstrates the fallacy of the National Rifle Association's slogan: "A good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun."
There were plenty of trained good guys and gals at Fort Hood with a corresponding number of guns, but that did not stop the tragedy that occurred.
I never shot any type of gun until I was in the Army, but there I was trained not only in how to shoot, but in gun safety. The Army just didn't hand me any type of gun I wanted merely because I wanted it; nor did I get to fire my weapon until I underwent their training regimen.
This is unlike the civilian world where I can go out and buy any type of gun I want without demonstrating any training or proficiency in the use of that weapon. All that is required is having the money.
The shooting also demonstrates the fallacy of concealed carry.
An individual determined to commit an act of gun violence always has the advantage on the unsuspecting gun owner.
Most of us will never be the victim of a gun crime, but everyone of us will get angry about something. If that anger becomes rage as it did at Fort Hood or Sandy Hook, that rage — coupled with easy access to a gun — becomes murder.
Gun ownership really doesn't make us safe; it merely endows repeated tragedies.
James F. Wisniewski
'Hate' too strong for sports
I was chagrined and disappointed at Mark Story's column on the "most hated" list.
The word "hate" has become an everyday word to describe most anything we disagree with in our lives. Hate is a really strong word. We may dislike some things, but do we hate them?
Our country has become more and more polarized. We hate Republicans and love Democrats, and vise versa. I can remember a time in this country when we disagreed on an issue (sometimes vehemently), but we had the sense to be able to come to consensus and compromise.
Do we really hate a sports team that has been good enough to beat our Cats three times in prestigious games? How about disappointed, or sorry for our players, or even patting the winning team on the back for a game well played?
On the other hand, I can tell you what I do hate: poverty, inequality, ignorance, and homelessness. If you need to hate something, hate these things and then go do something about them.
No way to label UK fans
Really? Do you want Kentucky basketball fans to be known by the teams they hate? The front page, above-the-fold, bold type, headline no less. Is this what college sports has come to?
Is this our reward for a great NCAA tournament run? Is this what we teach kids in exchange for their enthusiasm? We teach hatred for other college teams?
Kentucky fans have been known for their discerning eye and discriminating knowledge of the game. We were respected as fans with the ability to see what the refs couldn't. Usually we were right and the commentators acknowledged it. We were honored and proud of it.
Now our claim to fame will be that "our list of hated teams is longer and more talented than yours." What a legacy for our children. What an embarrassment for the newspaper. What humiliation for the university. What a shame for the fans. And what a disgrace for columnist Mark Story.
Encourage lawmakers to support anti-soring bill in Congress
Currently, the PAST Act (Prevent All Soring Tactics S 1406/H.R. 15I8) is before Congress. Soring is the method used to get the Big Lick Gait in Tennessee Walking Horses.
Soring methods include burning the legs with caustic chemicals, wrapping the leg in plastic to "cook" the flesh, then applying heavy chains on the raw flesh; when the horse walks, the pain causes the horse to lift its leg abnormally high, producing the "Big Lick" gait.
Although soring is illegal, current law allows the Walking Horse industry to police itself; the PAST Act would put enforcement into the hands of the U.S. Department of Agriculyure and strengthen the penalties for violators.
PAST is supported by 51 senators, 268 Representatives, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Equine Practitioners and every state veterinary association in America.
Yet Reps. Ed Whitfield and John Yarmuth are the only Kentucky sponsors. Ask your legislator to co-sponsor the PAST Act. Soring is animal cruelty, plain and simple.
I have always abhorred animal abuse, which is why I support the Prevent All Soring Tactics( PAST) Act, which will reform the federal Horse Protection Act to end the horrific practice of soring horses. I am proud that my Congressman,
Ed Whitfield, is the primary cosponsor of this anti-crime/anti-animal abuse bill which will enhance penalties, give USDA the means to enforce the law, and prohibition devices used in the soring process.
Both the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Equine Practitioners strongly endorse the PAST Act.
Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul have decided to throw their support behind a bill that is the soring industry's dream and contains no meaningful reform.
They should abandon that bill and align with the largest veterinary groups in the county and as well as their constituents who care about humane treatment of animals, and support the PAST Act.
I support the PAST Act, which will reform the federal Horse Protection Act to end the torturous practice of "soring" walking horses for the sake of a high—stepping show gait.
This anti-crime bill will increase penalties, ban devices used in the soring process, and give USDA the tools it needs to enforce the law and finally end the abuse. I am dismayed that Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul caved to the scant supporters of the grotesque "Big Lick" spectacle, and cosponsored Sen, Lamar Alexander's sham "alternative" bill. Alexander's bill codifies the failed self-regulation scheme, fails to provide any meaningful deterrents to violators, and leaves the devices used to torture horses in place: in short, it preserves the abusive status quo.