Editorial Decries Subsidies to Racing Industry – But Fails to Mention Dead Horses

Earlier this month, The Philadelphia Inquirer ran an editorial criticizing the subsidization of the Pennsylvania horseracing industry. Good, yes. Unfortunately, it did not go nearly far enough. So, in the interest of presenting the full picture, I wrote a letter to the editor, to which I received no reply. Thus, I publish it here:

I would like to thank you for your recent editorial decrying the corporate welfare to the Pennsylvania horseracing industry. As the founder and president of Horseracing Wrongs, a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to ending horseracing in America, I am certainly aware of this sadly under-reported issue. As you so accurately point out, racing is indeed in decline; the subsidies propping up Keystone State tracks is an all-too-common theme across the country. Here in New York, for instance, it is no exaggeration to say that without the largess from Video Lottery Terminals, all seven harness tracks and likely two of the state’s four Thoroughbred tracks would have been shuttered by now. But there is another element to this story – that is, the moral one.

In each of the past three years, I have placed FOIA requests with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture seeking information on racehorse deaths. What I have found, and reported – in gruesome detail – on my website, is that from 2015-2017, 290 horses died on or at Pennsylvania racetracks. 290. (Nationally, I estimate that there are over 2,000 track-related kills every year.) And that’s almost surely understated, as countless other “catastrophically injured” horses are euthanized back at private farms or after being acquired by rescue groups. Even worse, scores more (indeed, most) of the “retired” are brutally and violently slaughtered once this industry deems them expended. So in addition to diverting funds that could be used for the public good to an archaic business, the commonwealth is also sanctioning the killing of beautiful, intelligent, sensitive creatures – and all for nothing more than $2 bets.

Sensibilities on animal matters are clearly changing: Ringling is dead, SeaWorld, owing mostly to the movie “Blackfish,” is desperately hanging on, and greyhound racing is on life support (currently being kept alive by, you guessed it, subsidies). End the welfare, yes. But also end the exploitation; end the cruelty; end the killing.

End horseracing.

Patrick Battuello
Founder/President, Horseracing Wrongs
New York


  1. Anyone who has stood with these truly intelligent perceptive beings will stand and support the end of ignorant racing. The drive to make a buck has got to be mollified by the damage and injury done to these great horses.

  2. Great post, Patrick. There is simply NO moral justification for the racing industry to exist….NONE….and, if we take away the subsidies, there is NO financial justification. Whenever you mix money and animals, the animals end up losing the vast majority of the time. Even a simpleton should be able to grasp that.

    • This is the problem here in pa mary….that subsidy money is basically untouchable thanks to our wonderful legislators that have passed ammendments to do just that protect it… ..everytime someone talks about taking money from that fund its shot down in 2 seconds……i cant figure out who the corrupt ones really are here the horsemen who get away with reckless abandonment or the goverment who sustains it all and protects these people……this is the same state to where the hbpa created a legal defense fund for murray rojas and still has not revoked steph beatties license after testifying under federal oath to drugging horses….not to mention some of the necropsies that show 100 percent evidence that the horse should not have been racing or training and not to mention the trainers the numerious trainers that have left horses with life threating injuries to fend for themselves….. with as many times there have been articles written about the pa racing industry i have no idea how things arent even being looked into much less allowed to continue……the simulcasting is the only reason these tracks are generating money through wagers…..i do thank you patrick for holding these people accountable….just read the paulick report even the fans and other people in the industry will not support pa racing…..google pa horse racing,penn national or parx racing what comes up speaks for itself WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE?…..HOW IS THIS SUPPORTED ?……consider that everyone

  3. Way to go Patrick.
    Thanks for being a voice for the voiceless racehorses who are being beaten/whipped, doped, maimed, dumped and/or killed daily.
    Politicians are diverting BILLIONS in casino profits to this unscrupulous, immoral, vile and corrupt business while the public coffers suffer.
    It seems reasonable to assume that the politicians who defend this total waste of money are the ones who are getting their palms greased instead of doing what’s right for taxpayers, and for the racehorses.
    If the billions were put towards state debt, and/or to developing alternative forms of energy such as ethanol the results would be more decent jobs than this industry could ever create collectively.
    It’s time to stop all funding to this industry and set the racehorses free from their slavery.

  4. My heart breaks for the suffering and torment these horses endure — KEEP UP THIS FIGHT! — LET’S TAKE THE HORSES OUT OF THE EQUATION — we all need entertainment BUT keep the horses out of it — let’s create a way for these horses to be transferred out of this unconscionable business and into horse-loving homes.

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