Skip to comments.Criminal Probe of Dead Horses Opens in Florida
Posted on 04/21/2009 11:12:52 AM PDT by zaphod3000
WELLINGTON, Fla. -- Investigators have opened a criminal probe into whether someone poisoned 21 polo horses that died during preparations for a match in the sport's top championship in Florida, officials said Tuesday.
The horses from a Venezuelan-owned team began collapsing Sunday as they were unloaded from trailers at the International Polo Club Palm Beach, with some dying at the scene and others hours later at stables or clinics. State investigators believe the horses died from an adverse drug reaction, toxins in their food or supplements, or a combination of the two.
While state veterinarians run tests to determine what caused the deaths, law-enforcement officers are looking into whether criminal negligence, or perhaps something more sinister, could have been involved, said a spokesman for the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
It may take weeks to complete toxicologies to pin down the cause of what veterinarians believe was a swift toxic reaction that killed the horses, which were all from the Lechuza Polo team. Necropsies are also pending.
The deaths of the horses scheduled to play in Sunday's finals could have cost the team's owner, Venezuelan businessman Victor Vargas, more than $2 million, with each horse estimated to be worth $200,000. However, the player-owner didn't stand to lose much in potential winnings, as purses in the sport played largely for pride rarely top a few thousand dollars. There is no purse in the U.S. Open.
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
Maybe this is Obama’s payback to hugo chavez for dishing him....
Maybe the vet read portions of Hugo’s book to the horses.
I don’t think this means a private Venezuelan group owned the horses. More likely the Communist regime backed this and ran it. Is there private business down there anymore?
I’m sure these horses were owned by rich Venezuelans. It could be Hugo’s agents trying to send an intimidating message to them.
"The deaths of the horses scheduled to play in Sunday's finals could have cost the team's owner, Venezuelan businessman Victor Vargas, more than $2 million, with each horse estimated to be worth $200,000. However, the player-owner didn't stand to lose much in potential winnings, as purses in the sport played largely for pride rarely top a few thousand dollars. There is no purse in the U.S. Open."
Feed or medicine from China?
What's with this "could have"? The animals are d-e-a-d. He - or the insurance company -- just lost $2m.
CARACAS, Venezuela -- Víctor Vargas is a polo-playing banker who zips between his six homes in a fleet of luxury jets. So you might expect him to be struggling in today's Venezuela, where President Hugo Chávez has vowed to build a classless society.
But Mr. Vargas, 55 years old, hasn't missed a beat. His Banco Occidental de Descuento is expanding amid an oil-fueled economic surge. Like other bankers, he snares profits dealing in a flood of government-issued debt. And the Chávez years have done little to damp Mr. Vargas's exuberance for the trappings of wealth.
"People write stories about me saying I have a Ferrari, a plane, a yacht," he said during an interview at one of his homes, in the posh Country Club neighborhood of Caracas. "But it's not true. I've got three planes, two yachts, six houses. I've been rich all my life!"
Mr. Vargas, a dapper, meticulous man, is thriving without even a nod to Mr. Chávez's socialist nostrums. At the wedding party he threw for his daughter at his Dominican Republic mansion in 2004, more than 1,000 guests dined on platters prepared by New York's Le Cirque restaurant and grooved to a show by Grammy-winning Latin pop artist Juan Luis Guerra. The groom, Luis Alfonso de Borbón, is the great-grandson of the Spanish fascist Francisco Franco. Tracing his father's bloodlines, Mr. de Borbón claims he is the rightful King of France (Luis XX, to be exact), according to his biography, "A King Without a Throne."
Mr. Vargas's success highlights the durability of the country's elites no matter who is in power. Despite his socialist rhetoric, Mr. Chávez has a lot in common with leaders past. In office since 1999, Mr. Chávez is the latest in a long line of Venezuelan presidents who have spent heavily to build populist support, and then needed to use economic tactics like price controls. Venezuelan elites have learned to profit amid repeated volatility.
"Venezuela has developed a special business culture, where the game is played amid high inflation and other distortions," says Venezuela-born Latin America specialist Gilbert W. Merkx, who directs the Duke University Center for International Studies. "You can either get very rich or lose a lot of money playing the game, and it always gets more complicated as the distortions get worse."
Bankers have made money playing the huge gap between the official and the black-market exchange rates. One common way, which is legally permitted: buying dollar-bonds from the government at the official rate of 2.15 "strong bolivars" per dollar, and reselling them to investors for a price close to the black-market rate of 5.50 per dollar. In an economic boom, net income at Mr. Vargas's bank has more than doubled to $150 million since 2002.
Mr. Vargas says his survival strategy is remaining agnostic about politics. In 2002, he helped convince other bankers not to join strikes led by businesses that were aimed at ousting Mr. Chávez. As president of the banks' industry association, he helps negotiate banking regulations. "A businessman has to deal with his government, no matter how far to the right or left it is," he says.
Mr. Vargas's high-level government contacts have attracted critics who say he's suddenly become rich as "Mr. Chávez's banker." Mr. Vargas says he's only met Mr. Chávez twice, and besides, he's always been wealthy, having owned his Dominican Republic home and others for decades. "Juan Luis Guerra played at my first daughter's wedding [at the start of Mr. Chávez's presidency] too, and no one made a big deal about it," he says.
I bet Obama personally apologizes to hugo on behalf of all Rush Limbaugh listeners who obviously caused this tragedy.
I’d be looking at the guy doing the necropsy work and what might have been found in their gastro-intestinal tract...
My first thought was “P.E.T.A?”
If they were each worth $200,000, and 21 died... it would be $4,200,000.
As a horse owner, or maybe they own me, the deaths of these animals is so sad. A few years ago, a horse farm not far from me, had all their horses die in this same manner, very quickly and something they ate. Turned out that the feed mill, had sold them tainted feed. There are controls for what goes into various feed for cows or horses or other animals. In the cow feed, some kind of medicine was always included. If horses are fed this same thing, it kills them fast. A young man, working at the mill one day, pushed the wrong control button when mixing horse feed and the cow meds went in it. The owner of that horse farm lost all his animals, many, like 20, they were Belgian Draft horses, an especially gentle and wonderful breed. The owners were devastated of course at the loss of their animals. What happened at that polo event may have been an accidental poisoning like the poisoning of the draft horses was. There was a monetary settlement paid by the feed mill for the deaths of all those draft horses. I am thankful I never bought feed there and never will.
I agree.......I cannot even imagine losing mine when their (hopefully), 25-35 year plus lives on this earth have run their course....LET ALONE losing them in a manner as horrific as this!!
A friend of mine, whose Percheron I rode a lot before I had my own horses, emailed me when he died. I burst into tears, told my husband and burst into tears again. His name was Charlie (Horse). I loved that big gentle gray horse. I was lucky to have ridden him once bareback, a few months before old age caught up with him. He was not even my horse, but I cried for him just the same. He had a wonderful life with my friend. He was huge, so gentle and reliable. I never feared when I was atop that giant mountain of a horse. My 2 horses are now 19 and 9. I will weep unashamed when they go to horse heaven. They will be buried here at the farm. I dread the day one of them leaves me. We lost 2 dogs since we’ve been married and that was tough enough. Horses are a whole dimension more for me, they are so vital to my well being. I call it horse therapy. I need them. I once read this phrase and remembered it “Horses, we feed them hay, and they feed our souls.” How true, how true.