Scott Blasi, the longtime assistant trainer to Steve Asmussen, has been relieved of his duties pending an examination of documents and videos released by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which alleges animal abuse.
The Louisville Courier-Journal reported the evening of March 22 that Asmussen confirmed Blasi no longer works for him. The Courier-Journal also spoke to Clark Brewster, an attorney for the two men, who indicated Blasi won't be working for Asmussen "pending further review of the materials and videos."
The situation erupted March 20 after the New York Times, under the condition it not name the undercover investigator, published a story on the PETA allegations. The woman, who is said to have gotten to know Blasi with the intention of infiltrating the stable at Churchill Downs and Saratoga Race Course for four months in 2013, videotaped barn activity and conversations without the knowledge of Asmussen or Blasi.
Though PETA reportedly has hours of videotape, it has posted only a nine-plus-minute clip on its website. Called disturbing by many in the racing industry, the video doesn't show illegal equine drug activity but does indicate potential violations involving the hiring of workers.
The New York Gaming Commission and Kentucky Horse Racing Commission have begun separate investigations into the allegations. PETA has stated it isn't against horse racing, though over the years it has been quick to take advantage of various incidents such as breakdowns to claim racehorses are mistreated and abused.
On its website, PETA urges people to contact Congress to support the stalled Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, which calls for federal oversight of horse racing and governance of equine medication by the United States Anti-Doping Agency. In the following paragraph, however, the group states: "The best thing you can do for racehorses is never to attend or place a bet on any race, including the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes."