The Faces of American Horseracing

Horseracing, as presently practiced in America, is a dying industry. All the economic indicators bear this out: Number of races, racedates, starters per race, and, of course, total handle have been in steady decline for years. (The harness industry is even worse off – if not for slots welfare, the bulk, if not all, of Standardbred racing would have vanished by now.)

While much of the above can be attributed to competition – casinos, lotteries – an evolving public sensibility on animal exploitation for entertainment (see Greyhound racing, SeaWorld) plays a not insignificant part. Bottom line here, the younger generations are eschewing the ponies, leaving this archaic business with a pathetic stereotype for customers:

New York Times Aqueduct Slideshow

Little wonder that handwringing is the order of the day.


  1. Mary, I agree. And to illustrate how racing cares about the horses: Calder recently gave trainers and their horses one day to vacate the property or gates would be padlocked and there would be no access to any horses left behind. Churchill is involved in this and there has been no coverage re the situation by any news media in the area. The trainers are now getting a week to leave after some threatened to “drive through the gates” to get to the horses. I guess that would have raised the profile of what was going on and the “powers that be” did not want that.

    Further, the trainers affected are not high profile and the voiceless horses are of no consequence…..

    One of my friends is trying desperately to get the media to cover the situation but so far has had no success. Society is in big trouble when a business such as racing with all of it’s injustices can exert such a powerful code of silence.

  2. The photos were despicably powerful. A few, pathetic-looking bettors who choose to spend their time in such a manner…in complete contrast to the non-consenting, magnificent Thoroughbreds running for their lives. Yet both man and horse with little hope of a better life.

  3. The current state of horse racing. 1. Texas politicians are fed up with the money pit of supporting horse racing. Has cut-off financing to the racing commission which is necessary in order to run races. Of course the proponents keep fighting this by continue to use Advanced Wagering betting to give them the cash flow they need despite the fact that the Texas court system rules that this form of gambling is illegal. In a defiant, last ditch effort to save horse racing, the horsemen continues to use AW betting. They have been ordered to shut it down. They keep defying the order, and pledge to fight to the last drop to save horse racing. My only hope is that the government, some politician in Texas, has a higher IQ than 50 and realizes that this business is not only a dying sport, but it is a MONEY PIT for taxpayers. It needs to shut down. My only hope is that the politicians there don’t back down. Both main racetracks in the State which are LONE STAR Park Dallas Texas and Retama Park San Antonio are on PRIME real estate property. If they were to develop that property into Residential/Commercial not only would it create jobs, but it would create a huge consistent tax flow for the government. So instead of the government putting out tons of cash to support horse racing it would bring in tons of cash. It would be a win all around especially for the horses. I say SHUT IT DOWN!
    2. The same thing is happening in Pennsylvania. The horseman’s purse account is bankrupt despite the fact that is has been infused by non-stop cash flow from the casino. Some of the money is unaccounted for which doesn’t surprise me since the HBPA is one of the most corrupt bunch of gangsters on the track in my opinion. They have no legal basis to be there other than the fact they monopolize the wagering signals under the Horse Racing Wire Act which should be immediately stopped. It was only supposed to be temporary anyways.
    The casinos are fed-up with handing money over to support horse racing. They say that the racetrack is a money pit for them, is nothing but a huge liability issue, and the casinos no longer want to fund the tracks or hand over money. As far as their concerned, they would rather get rid of the track, development the land, and put in more slot machines. The slot machines, they say, are a cash cow for them, and don’t have the liability issues. In a more recent post Mary Johnson suggested this to be happening – she’s right. So government officials in PA (mostly Republicans) are having emergency meetings as I write to infuse about 37 million into the horseman’s account from a combination of TAXPAYERS MONEY, and the casino. Every single taxpayer in PA should be flooding these politicians with phone calls demanding that they stop supporting horse racing. Of course most people are so busy working 2 jobs to survive while some of their money is going to horses running in circles to make some wagering outlets filthy rich, and horses paying with their lives. It’s just outrageous when you really examine just how horrific the horse racing industry is.
    3. The NTRA (|New York Racing Association) headed by the all boys club leader Alex Winthrop multimillionaire extraordinaire, successfully lobbied the government for changes to the temporary visas specifically to bring workers over from mainly Mexico to provide a slave labour force for stable area workers. Can you imagine that? Not only do they exploit the horses, but human labour as well. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I’ve seen those Mexican workers working 80 hours per week, no life, living in rat infested dorm rooms on the backstretch, getting physically injured with no financial support while taking care of horses that somebody paid $100,000 or more for while they are making about $250 per week. The business called horse racing is actually the business of slave labour both the horse and the stable worker. It’s absolutely outrageous. So they get all these tax breaks, get millions from the casinos, get money from the taxpayer, and use the JOB card to justify this insanity. IN the meantime, they don’t even hire American workers. The majority of stable area labour is Mexican. After all, what American worker would work all those hours, live on the track, lots of time travelling from state to state, no personal life or very little, long hours, little security, little disability funds if they get hurt, cleaning up poop and pee, breaking their backs crouched down rubbing and wrapping legs with caustic chemicals. Who would do that? The only people they can exploit are workers on Visas because what worker will not whistle blow or open their mouth up about what’s going on when they have a VISA dangling over their head????
    4. This entire business is done on the bones, and backs of sentiment beings called a racehorse. They are DYING on racetracks every day all over North America. In the past years, with the huge influx of casino money, the racehorse is being abused now more than ever. It’s blatant animal cruelty what’s going on. The only reason why this continues is because politicians high up MUST be getting financial kickbacks to keep this torture show going. It’s amazing how they will drop everything to go into emergency meetings to ensure that the horse racing business gets millions more to keep it going. I can’t stand it anymore. Everybody must voice their concerns with their local politicians and tell them that they no longer want to support this horror show.
    5. We have racehorse finishing last by 10+ lengths, 20+ lengths and are STILL RUNNING. This was never allowed in the past. Many racing jurisdictions have a “non-competitive” clause whereby a racehorse can’t enter a race if it finishes a minimum of 10+ lengths back. I don’t know whatever happened to this clause, but it’s up to the discretion of the racing commission. Obviously, they have virtually ignored this clause in order to fill races, and generate wagering money. These racehorses have no business being on a track let alone racing.
    6. We have racehorses being run with only DAYS of rest never mind weeks. Before you would never see a horse run back prior to 2 weeks or it was very rare. Now I’m constantly seeing racehorses run back with only days of rest. This is cruelty to animals
    7. There are horses breaking down every day, and the reports are covering it up by saying “vanned-off,” “walked-off” or whatever other phrases they choose. When Patrick gets back the FOIA reports we find out in most cases that the horse actually died or was humanely euthanized in the stable area. It seems obvious that there is a deliberate cover-up now on behalf of racetracks to hide the euthanization of racehorses from the cameras and public view. If it weren’t for Patrick working hard to keep up with the FOIA they would get away with blatant murder! Actually they are getting away with it, but at least we are finding out what happened, and speaking out about it once we do.
    8. We have racehorses being whipped excessively to the point of welts, and bleeding with jockeys getting slaps on the wrists or a pathetic $300 fine for beating the hell out of a racehorse. If a horse was whipped like this in any other setting the person would be charged with animal cruelty.
    9. We have wagering outlets like TVG, Bet America, Expressbet making BILLIONS off of these racehorses, and giving little or nothing to OTTB aftercare.
    10. We have the top Trainers with multiple drug violating records still training. We have top Trainers like Steve Asmussen running a virtual drug factory (see PETA undercover video) to cover-up chronic issues, to enhance performance, to keep a horse running. His stable is the same as most. This is going on in stable areas all over the country. The racehorse has become a pin cushion, a slave, a number, and a commodity that is exploited for $2 bets. In the end, nobody is there for them when they are standing at a kill auction while people (who had nothing to do with the exploitation) is begging for $200 donations to save them.

    This business is an antiquated roman-like torture circus. That’s all it is. It needs to end. If all taxpayer money was not diverted to support racetracks they would not survive. If every casino refused to transfer funds to the racetracks they would not survive.

    Isn’t it funny how some of these people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars buying a racehorse while ordinary taxpayers like you and me have to pay for this horrendous animal cruelty circus.

    It’s time to tell our politicians that we no longer want to do this. We must mobilize and make our voices heard. This blog is a good place to start.

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