Within weeks, the bill emerged with a new provision that handed the industry what it was seeking — a tax depreciation schedule for yearlings that gave owners the ability to recoup the cost of their investments in an average of three years rather than seven. Alex Waldrop, president and chief executive of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, publicly thanked several lawmakers, including Cardoza, after the new version of the farm bill emerged from the conference committee.
When the new depreciation schedule kicked in the following year, Cardoza entered the industry, buying seven racehorses, including Regrettable Romance, Dad's Little Man, Flying Spirit and Jade River.
"I have loved horses since childhood and regularly watched horse racing with my mother," Cardoza, who resigned from Congress in August, said in an e-mailed statement. "She passed away in 2007. I used some of my inheritance in 2009 to purchase animals that were a shared passion for us."
After the horse purchases, in 2009, Cardoza joined the Congressional Horse Caucus and started holding his political fundraisers at racetracks. He also co-sponsored legislation in 2009 that sought to reduce the taxes winners must pay on big purses at racetracks. The bill did not become law.
After purchasing his first racehorse, Cardoza said, he and his staff sought opinions from the ethics committee on any actions he took that might affect the industry.
"My staff routinely checked in with the committee to ensure all of my activities and interests were completely without conflict," Cardoza said in an e-mailed statement.
The Post asked for copies of any written opinion, but Cardoza declined to say whether the ones he received were written or oral. Such opinions are not subject to public records laws.
He said he did not think his work on the farm bill in 2008 presented a conflict, because he did not own any racehorses at the time. He said the bill he introduced after he began buying racehorses in 2009 would have "treated all bettors the same" and was aimed at helping the bettors, not the horse industry.