Yes, Ray Paulick, Horseracing Is Animal Exploitation; Yes, Bill Finley, Whipping Horses Is Cruel

Although I am loath (and loathe) to give Ray Paulick, one of Racing’s more notorious hacks, “clicks” or “hits” (for I know he counts them), this short clip was too good to pass up. Speaking in the wake of the duo kills at Pimlico, Paulick at first was typically (for this industry) dismissive and dishonest (“in the vast majority of cases these horses are well cared for”; “there’s been a lot of progress”). But then, a startling, at least to me, admission. Forgoing the usual blather about “sport” and “athletes,” he says:

“The public has changed. We’re using animals for entertainment here. And, all you have to do is look at the circus where they’ve eliminated elephants from the show…look at SeaWorld… We have to do everything possible for the safety and health of these horses because we’re using them for entertainment. That’s the bottom line.”

Remarkable, actually. Not only does Paulick concede that his beloved industry is nothing more than animal exploitation, but his references (comparisons) to Ringling and SeaWorld show, though I’m sure he would not say so publicly, that he sees Racing’s future. It will go, just as those other two entities, at least their animal versions, are, as we speak, in the process of going. It will go because of exposure (think “Blackfish”) and the public’s reaction to that exposure. You see, when your product rests on a foundation of cruelty – how else to describe the enslavement and exploitation of sentient beings? – and the masses become enlightened, eventually the jig is up. For Racing, that moment is coming. And what’s more, Ray Paulick knows it.

But Paulick wasn’t the only high-profile apologist to break from Racing orthodoxy last week. In an article in the Thoroughbred Daily News, renowned racing writer Bill Finley decries California’s new, more-liberal whip rule. But Finley goes one step further, calling for an outright ban on whipping. For Finley, it’s mostly a matter of perception (and self-preservation): “People don’t like to see animals abused and a lot of people think hitting a horse with a whip, stick, crop, or whatever you want to call it, is cruel. Most people think dog racing is cruel. And look where dog racing is.”

But then this (again) startling admission: “He [a Jockeys’ Guild official who argues that the new rule is not abuse] might want to bring that up with my 15-year-old daughter. Brought up in a family where both parents work in the racing industry, she has zero interest in the sport and when asked why said it is because she doesn’t like to watch the jockeys beating the horses.”

Mr. Finley, you are wrong on this. Your daughter is not some unworldly sentimentalist; this is not mere perception. This is reality, reality grounded in rational thought – in common sense. Yes, whipping racehorses, whipping any subjugated animal, is cruel. How can it be seen as anything but? And the truth is, Mr. Finley, even if they were to implement your “reform” – eliminate whips – horses will continue to suffer and die on American racetracks. You can’t fix that which is wicked from the start. I have a hunch your daughter gets that. Perhaps it’s time you followed her lead.


  1. Have shared with my fellow activists. Also volunteering with your newly partnered Compassion Works International organization. Being their voice to stop abuse and exploitation!

    Keep up with informing the world!

    Ty Georgia

  2. I agree. What gives man right to be crule? Nothing . They have no right to inflict pain on others. There needs to be laws to protect animals that includes horses.
    So many people have no respect for life. Please end suffering and slaughtering of horses. They provide us a service and this is not fun and not something to teach our children to do. Horss are not entertainment. We have I’ll mannered morals as people to do this in Canada especially as this is the country we want an image as being great. This isn’t great.

  3. Great post – permission to share on the ‘Ban the Grand National’ face book site?

    Sent from my iPhone


  4. Whipping a defenseless, and voiceless being (horse, children) is inhumane, and cruel.
    Now, add into the mix dope to mask chronic issues, sore, tired in the stretch, and then whip him – whip ’em good!
    That’s horse racing.
    Sadly, this is only one aspect of the cruelty, and the younger generation gets it.
    Any business currently operating under the premise of exploitation of animals in contemporary America will meet their demise.
    Whether it’s greyhound racing or confining a free ranging, intelligent orca – younger people don’t accept this. They see it. They know it, and they know it’s wrong.
    They are the next Senators, and people who will run this country.
    We have started the ball rolling, I’m confident they will pick it up, run with it, and ensure that animals will no longer be exploited for profit.

    • “only one aspect of the cruelty” never a truer word spoken, Gina!

      The sufferings of the racehorse are inexcusable and INHUMANE!

      Right on Gina, the younger people are frowning on horseracing big time and i believe this will be the tipping point for the racing industry, worldwide!!!

      • Thanks Carolyn for your support and posts.
        It’s critical to educate our children, and the public at large by exposing the truths about this industry.
        To put it succinctly it’s nothing but a cruelty circus, and death camp.
        The last time I was in Kentucky I was having a conversation with the age group 13-15 years old. So out of curiosity I asked them “what do you think of the Kentucky Derby?”
        Some of them didn’t even know what it was, and I’m not kidding. I was actually astonished that they lived in Kentucky and didn’t know what it was.
        Most of them said they had no interest in it whatsoever.
        Many of them said they didn’t like the way the racehorses were treated.
        Not one accepted and supported it.
        This small group is a larger reflection of the younger generation at large.
        This industry will be greatly reduced in my lifetime, and eventually shut down.
        It can’t come soon enough.

  5. Isn’t it astounding that racing industry members REMAIN in the industry even when they (occasionally, and maybe even accidentally!) admit to the exploitation and abuses in it!

    Just the other day, another of the “fluff” stories came across my FB feed. It was old, but being recirculated – about a race mare named Rock N Cozy. Racehorse owner John Murrell claimed the mare for retirement…and so many things he said had me wondering, “Mr. Murrell, do you NOT live in the real world?!?” For instance, this from Murrell; “I didn’t want to see the mare ‘drop in class’ and (possibly) wind up running in races every week.” REMOVE YOUR BLINDERS, MR. MURRELL! Not only are innumerable racehorses running every week, there are some that are entered every 3 or 4 days! THIS is horse racing, Mr. Murrell – and there are countless other Rock N Cozy’s out there silently begging for help!

  6. And this, as well…what’s with all of the praying by the apologists? Such as – “Let’s pray the rest of the day all horses come back safe”. Or this – “Did Nyquist come back to the barn safe? Praying for him!”

    If this industry was finally allowed to die, all of their frantic praying could cease!

    • Joy – exactly.
      I saw things that I never mention only because I don’t think anybody would believe me.
      Delusion is a common condition in stable personnel, and supporters of horse racing.
      Most know darn well that what we are saying here is 100% correct, but they choose to ignore it (deliberate delusion) or they are just plain ignorant (delusion).
      The ones who have really lost their minds actually defend the cruelty, and abuse.
      Judging from the many comments of pro-horse racing people they fall into the deliberate delusional category.
      Here are just some examples that I witnessed on the track in my last years there:
      1. Horses with no bedding, sore, tired, and had to lay on the dirt of the stall and, often times, in their own feces and urine. These were ACTIVE racehorses folks!
      2. Trainers not being able to pay bills, pay staff, and no longer was able to get feed on credit. Walking around the stable area asking for a CUP of feed. I emphasize CUP of feed because anybody here with active racehorse experience knows that they need a minimum of 10 pounds of feed or 1 pound per 1 pound of body weight (generally speaking) not including hay.
      3. Many Trainers were not feeding ANY HAY whatsoever including “top” trainer Read Baker at Woodbine racetrack. A trainer in my barn claimed one of his let downs that was running for $5000 at Ft. Erie, it was skin and bones, was mentally screwed, and chewed the stall walls. A scope after the race showed this filly FULL of paint chips, particles of rubber matting, and shavings in her stomach because Baker doesn’t give hay. I confronted the idiot about it, and he said he didn’t believe in feeding hay – it slows them down. He reminded me that vet records are PRIVATE so I couldn’t submit a complaint to the racing commission about this inhumane treatment of racehorses. Besides, he has a direct line into the commission so little would get done.
      This “top” trainer like many others goes through a slew of horses to get one stake horse. Again, the racehorse pay with their lives either getting maimed in this process, dying, or unfit for re-homing.
      Any horse person reading this knows that a racehorse is confined to the stall 23 hours per day. Without hay, they go nuts. Not to mention the physical damage to the stomach. Not surprisingly one of Baker’s ex-exercise riders told me that the vet was at his barn DAILY with colic situations and some horses died in their stalls there.
      4. Racehorses training with no shoes on because they could only afford a trim! Now imagine walking on the road in your bare feet – sore right? Now imagine running on the road at 45 miles per hour! I think I made my point. These horses were so sore they had to be beaten onto the track.
      5. Racehorses with obvious saddle sores and cinch sores that were never treated. Blisters on the cinch lines from lack of grooming, lack of help, and lack of nutrition.
      6. Trainers unable to pay their own rent, their own food, depriving both their horses, and children of basic needs, BUT according to them “they were going to win the stake races at Woodbine.” I guess they are going to win with horses that were dumped by larger operations once it was determined that they didn’t have the ability to compete at upper levels after they were probably needled to the max, and tapped out to the max. That’ s joints tapped out folks with fluid squirting from them.
      7. Trucks showing up to pick up the unwanted after race meets or now they are instructed to go to farms off-site for slaughterhouse/kill auction pick-ups.
      8. Let’s do the math. It cost a minimum of $100 per day to PROPERLY care for an active thoroughbred racehorse. If your doing your own work it costs $60 per day. This doesn’t include vet and farrier bills which can be exponential especially with horses dumped into the claiming ranks. They have additional high maintenance costs because they usually have ongoing chronic issues that require a cocktail of drugs to keep them going. Anyways, using the figure of $60 per day times 30 days that’s $1800 per month add in average vet/farrier costs and your up to $2500 per month minimum. So a owner/trainer must make $30,000 per year just to keep ONE racehorse going. So he must make that off the racehorse or have outside income. The majority of owner/trainers have no or minimum outside income. Then they have their own living expenses depending on their personal circumstances it take on average a minimum of $30,000 per year to live in Ontario. That’s just the basics. So with one racehorse an owner/trainer must be pulling in $60,000 per year and I can guarantee you that less than 1% on the track actually has this sort of income. So the entire financial burden falls on a tired, sore racehorse to pay its way. Consequently, many are over raced and squeezed until they can give no more. The possibility of re-homing remote. They are headed to the disposal system called a slaughterhouse usually.
      When I would attempt to break their delusion and talk to these people they think that they are the “good” folks of horse racing because they are saving a racehorses’ life that would otherwise be dumped. What they didn’t get, due to their delusion, is that they are DELAYING, and contributing to the downward spiral of the racehorse in their care that is not even being properly cared for in many cases!
      Moreover, the horse is usually suffering and is being forced to run under possible duress. So, in actuality, they are part of the abuse and they just don’t get it.
      In the end, these racehorses either get maimed or die on the track or eventually in a slaughterhouse.
      Very few get that forever grassy paddock. This is the delusion. This is horse racing.

      • Our good grief! He is training TODAY! We like you know of several abusive trainers still plying their business today including one who used shock wave therapy on a racing mare every day for two weeks up to and including the day she raced breaking both her front legs! Your experiences sound just like ours! We have galloped/ worked out horses who had no hind shoes too! The poor horses hind feet were so worn down from our sand based track that the only way you could have placed shoes on his hind feet would have been glue-ons.Now our local track has gone to shavings/ wood pellets ONLY. One of our states prominent breeders found out the hard way about trying to cut bedding /labor costs by not using straw after he lost several clients foals and a couple of his stallions. Any good horse person will tell you a horse will always eat some bedding even if well fed.We have seen horses with rain rot on their legs so painful you had knock them out to treat them if they received treatment at all. We ourselves have been unpaid many times for work we did despite complaints made to the state racing commission and the HBPA. The commission will no longer assist one with payment problems.We have also seen many things that people would not believe possible and a few years ago our state passed laws against those actions, but , there is a catch big enough to ride a horse through.If your the owner of the horse you can do ANYTHING you want as long as the horse is halfway fed / watered.

  7. BEATING/WHIPPING – Facts are stubborn aren’t they?
    Becky Thomas one of the leading consignors at 2 year-old-in training sales for years.
    She’s made millions and, like most, she’s not without controversy including doping scandals which seemed to be a catalyst for her moving out of Florida to New York.
    Like most, she’s has many drop in the dirt – either maimed or dead.
    I watched every single one of her 2-year-olds at the sale get beaten, so badly, at Keeneland that I actually complained to the office and nothing got done.
    They simply didn’t care.
    Here she is, years later, still beating horses and still making millions.

    Please click on the link above.
    Scroll down to Hip #33.
    Click on the little video icon and press play.
    Then watch the horse get beaten.
    Of course they may take it down since this blog is getting monitored.

    Her reward for perpetrating, indirectly, acts of cruelty and inhumane treatment on a racehorse baby?
    2 million dollars!
    I was told by several of her former exercise riders that she actually gives them a cash bonus if they beat them to increase their performance and drive the sales price up and I believe them.
    The purchase, West Point Thoroughbreds, most likely, has an equine insurance policy in place so that if the racehorse drops dead they get their money back anyways.
    This is horse racing folks.

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