NYRA Can’t Stop the Killing

Forced – by media reports – to respond to 12 dead horses in Saratoga, NYRA issued the following statement Friday:

“Although New York State has made significant progress in reducing injuries and preventing the inappropriate use of medication in racehorses, the job of equine safety is never done. There will be challenges along the way. We are experiencing such a challenge during the 2014 Saratoga meet. A thorough investigation of all of the racing fatalities…is being conducted.

We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to identify the causes of death in all racing fatalities in New York. As stewards of the racehorse, we have a duty to do all that we can to honor and protect these incredible athletes.”

When it gets hot – post Barbaro/Eight Belles, Aqueduct ’11-’12, Saratoga/Del Mar ’14 – the industry talks of amping up its commitment to the “incredible athletes” – improved track surfaces, more stringent drug policies, lower purse-to-claim ratios, “safety stewards.” Yet even when “reforms” are implemented, the killing continues, virtually unabated. It continues because it’s built into the system.

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Racehorses are legally and morally regarded as pieces of movable property, things to be exploited. Property by definition has no serious interests to respect; exploitation by definition seeks to maximize the exploiters’ gain. So, they intensively train and race bred-for-speed horses on immature bodies. This will not change. So, they trade equines like pork belly futures, shuffling them from barn to barn, vet to vet, treatment philosophy to treatment philosophy. This will not change.

So, except for a reproductive-worthy few, they do not retire at the first sign of trouble, trouble that is patent to any experienced horseman. This will not change. So, they send the vast majority of the has-beens or never-were to the claiming game, which not only serves as the backbone (70%) of American racing, but is also where most of the dying occurs. This will not change. Racing, by its very nature, kills horses. And they know it.

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  1. All facts, no fiction. Patrick, you tell the truth without sugar coating it, as it should be told. The NYRW Board has always known the problems responsible for these continued innocent deaths. They choose to do nothing because they are a big part of the problem. Horse racing is not a sport, it’s a killing field and victims fall everyday and discarded as trash. Things could change if the right people start seeing the horses, that give and give until it takes them to their grave, as living, breathing creatures, just like humans, who deserve a life, just as we do, and to live it as loved, respected, beautiful majestice creatures that they are. These monsters, not just the owners, trainers and vets, but includes the people who control the racetracks, the breeders, the spectators and those who rush to make that $2.00 bet, are so consumed with greed and themselves. Forcing a horse to run beyond its physical capability and it breaks its’ legs as a result is animal abuse. On July 30, 2014, I sent an email to Christopher Kay, President & Chief Executive Officer, of the New York Racing Association, expressing concerns about the unnecessary deaths on NY racetracks and questioned their “Code of Ethics”. I said alot, and, like a fool, expected a positive response of concerned actions, but, never got a response. On July 29, 2014, I finally talked with Mr. Preplow, Chair of the New Yor Racing and Waging Board, and expressed concerns about the unnecessary deaths, and questioned why they are allowing horses as young as 2 yrs old race. He asked me “So, you think 2 yr old horses should not race?”. My answer was very quick, “NO, their bone structures are too immature for such a damanding, physical sport”. And, I told him that was not the only concern. He agreed that the bones of the thoroughbreds are very fragile, but did not indicate that he was going to take action. Again, like a fool, I expected my words did not go wasted on deft ears. Fact is, when the media keeps demanding closure and the Senate of these states take control and change the Legislative Law to ban all horse racing and force the racetracks to be closed down in the US for the sake of life, that is when this monstrosity will end. It’s a trillion dollar industry that went wrong many years ago that should have ended many years ago. My God, all those horses died for human greed. This killing game really needs to end.

  2. Regarding the investigations into the horse deaths at the Saratoga track: we were at the track yesterday and witnessed a groomer repeatedly whipping a distressed horse. The horse went down several times, yet groomer continued to use the whip. A Saratoga official tried to deny that this is abusive behavior, saying the horse had heat stroke. Heat stroke is brought on by stress. Quite certainly the repeated use if the whip was not helping the poor animals’s stress. When I continued to press the official, his retort was, “Some of our groomers are not too smart.” (Ya think?) I believe the horse was Buddys Tiz, after the 8th race.

    I have been trying to find out what the outcome of this situation was, turned up nothing. Now I read that horses have been dying in the immediate past up there. Seems to me this groomer should be investigated and given his abusive, public actions on that poor horse, should be terminated and not allowed to work with animals…ever. If he does this in full view of thousands, that is he capable of when left alone with these horses?

    On a personal note: what I witnessed yesterday made me sick. I will never step foot into the
    Saratoga Racetrack again.


  3. Lori – is there any way that this groomer’s actions can brought our publicly?

    This is a money industry, and the lives of the horses mean nothing to many, I know. Realistically, I don’t see that all tracks will close – and I worry greatly about all the Thoroughbreds out there who will suffer if they do, because they’ll all be shipped. I feel this is like Big Lick – horrifically abusive, but condoned because of the almighty dollar and political connections. And just as the Tennessee Walker is beautiful with its natural gaits, how do we insist the industry do right by the very animals without whom they wouldn’t have the industry? How do we gain the power to insist and enforce humane training, treatment, aftercare?

  4. I will most certainly relay what happened to Wayne Pacelle and anyone else who will listen! I am sick that poor Buddy’s Tiz has died. There were about 30 or so of us standing right there watching what happened and there was the Saratoga official in the white van, making excuses for the groomer and trying to keep everyone calm. I don’t know how he can live with his conscience. My own husband almost went over the fence after the groomer. I did email the Albany Times on this as well, hoping that this can be made public and not another cover up. So so sad… I wish I had the groomer’s name, but with some research I think I will find it eventually. He needs to be held accountable for his actions.

    • It would be great if the groom and the official were held accountable for the abuse of Buddy’s Tiz. However, I seriously doubt that will happen because officials know abuse goes on a lot and they do nothing about it. Of course, if there is some meaningful bad publicity about this outrageous incident maybe their hand could be forced. It sure is high time something is done to expose what this industry does to the horse. Nobody in racing stands up for the horse but if it is a money issue then there would be some action. As we know, money is what counts not the horse.

      PS It is a pity nobody used their camera/video to document the incident. Then there could be less room for spin…

  5. Lori, could you report this to PETA.
    This shocking incident should get as much exposure as possible.
    Reporting it to the Humane Society, as someone else has suggested, would
    be a very good idea. What a terrible thing to witness.

  6. Both Peta and the US Humane Society have been contacted. I also emailed a reporter with the Albany Times, as they ran a piece about the on going investigations. I did receive an email response from a Peta rep. stating that they will be investigating. I have been exposed to horse racing for 30 some years now and am really sad to say that, while I never understood the enjoyment of the sport, I was oblivious to this dark side of it. People made such a fuss about the dog races, which I fully support. Isn’t horse racing basically the same thing, just a different breed of animal and more money involved? Really, really sickening.

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