For Ray Paulick, It’s the “Optics” of Abuse That’s Troubling – Not the Actual Abuse

Citing a survey that named “animal welfare” the number one cause in America, Ray Paulick, in his eponymous Paulick Report, sounds the alarm (not for the first time) among his fellow apologists: we’d better start taking this stuff seriously or trouble will follow. To help win the issue, Paulick points to the example of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, who, after investing in some “field conservation,” rebranded itself, in the words of its CEO, “one of the world’s largest animal welfare organizations.” Co-opting 101. Paulick: “[make] the public’s No. 1 cause [your] cause, too.”

But to be clear, this is not “animal welfare” for the animals’ sake. Rather, it’s about perception. To illustrate, he presents three recent incidents from Pennsylvania:

At Penn September 28, “Miss Swisher [whom I wrote about]…refused to run a few strides after breaking from the starting gate. Jockey Julio Hernandez could be seen on video striking the horse excessively in the neck or shoulder area with his whip as she pulled herself up, lifting his arm over his head before striking her.”

Same track, same day, “a 2-year-old filly first-time starter named Keltoi was fractious behind the gate…the filly then reared up and flipped over backwards. Nevertheless, she was loaded in the gate and [raced].”

At Parx October 7, “Georgia Bonnet [whom I wrote about]…was racing just off the rail at the top of the stretch and began to lug in. Jockey Tyrone Carter switched the whip to his left hand and, according to Equibase footnotes, hit Georgia Bonnet repeatedly on the left side of her head through deep stretch.”

Terrible, all. But for Paulick, it’s the terrible “optics”: “[These incidents] are troubling to me in what they convey to the public and how they can shape a negative image of the sport. …actions – or lack thereof – will have an impact on how the public views our sport and help them form an opinion about whether we are treating or mistreating their No. 1 cause.”

When the racing people put their true feelings out there so blatantly, I can’t decide whether it’s arrogance or stupidity. Either way, it only goes to confirm what we already knew: “Equine welfare” is a ruse, a base marketing tool. But Paulick is right about this: The animal rights cause is strong and will only get stronger. And eventually, change (Ringling, SeaWorld, dogracing, horseracing as we speak), for in the end, moral progress is irrepressible. And, Mr. Paulick, know this: When the final chapter on “The Sport of Kings” is written, history’s judgment of those who promoted the exploitation, ignored the mass killing, and spun the cruelty will not be kind.


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  1. I once again volunteer my time. I will GLADLY whip anyone that is abusing an animal!. Glady and enjoy every second. A baseball bat will follow. To the head. I could throw up right now. A curse on all.

  2. Thank You Patrick.

    Thank you so much for sounding the alarm again and again and working so hard to wake more people up to this Absolute ABUSE, CRUELTY and EVIL against these magnificent animals.

    Horseracing needs to crash and burn completely and will do so when enough people WAKE UP and stop contributing financially.

  3. Patrick, as you know and many more of you, I was an apologist, I was in the business full tilt, and I saw first hand what goes on.
    The facts presented here are horrific, but living it every day is worse – much worse for the horses.
    Like any apologist, it took me a long time to take off my rose-colored glasses, to clear away the delusional cobwebs and to see things for what they are.
    I constantly rationalized until I could not rationalize any more.
    Horse racing is systemic, organized, legitimized animal cruelty – end of story.
    There’s no amount of “optics,” or “damage control,” that can mask the truth.
    It’s going to get much worse for the horses as the racing horse population, and their respective owners dwindles.
    That’s when the rules become lax, non-existent when a horse being whipped in the face or whipped into the ground renders a meaningless fine that condones this blatant cruelty, and inhumane treatment of a racehorse.
    The multiple drug violating trainers are supported and promoted because they know that these trainers will do just about anything to get their horse into the gate and to pick up a check even if it means sending them to their death.
    After watching them for years – every single one of them are blood sucking parasites and it’s so sad to see these racehorses being exploited for wagering profits.
    Even the names project an optic although sometimes they are right on like “Chattel.”
    Well Ray you really indicted yourself this time, and it has not gone unnoticed.

  4. I feel I have to go to Paulick report for my daily chuckle. Today is a prime example. There is an article about race rigging in Pennsylvania. In the article, trainer Stephanie Beattie admits “95-98% of the trainers” had violated medication rules. There are articles about doping, jockeys throwing races, trainers thumbing their noses at rules, the overuse use of whips, the mistreatment of the racehorses, governments having to subsidise racing… and yet, intelligent people continue to support and bet on this farce known as horse racing. It’s so blatant that it is a sham, and the dishonesty is absurd.
    Unfortunately, the horses pay for it.

  5. This weekend I was watching Equestrian jumping contest…..The horses are beautiful, the course tricky. On numerous occasions the announcer said that a horse was young (9, I think)., My understanding is that they don’t even start training until they are six. Then you have the horse racing that not only starts training before the age of 2, but also race them when they are 2. They are killing them right and left, and they don’t care….as long as they make money off the races. The jockeys who abuse these animals get a slap on the wrist and a small fine. It’s disgraceful, disgusting, and immoral. Stop betting on the races, please.

    • Racing is a gambling business where a return on “investment” (horse) ASAP is all that matters. And of course, dumping bad “investments” ASAP is a logical part of the business model .
      By the time the horse reaches maturity at around 6 yrs, he is, obviously, CHRONOLIGACALLY YOUNG, but he is PHYSIOLOGICALLY OLD because of the totally abusive demands on his immature system – by that time, and before, those that survive are running in the downward spiral of the “claiming game”
      People in racing are not good horsemen, They rely on drugs and other means to keep the horse on the track.
      In fact, those in racing are in it for all the wrong reasons, The horse suffers because of this.

      In contrast, Equestrian jumping is not a gambling business. The horse does not compete until he is at least mature. Most of the people involved posses good horseman skills. They do not rely on drugs to keep the horse in competition. The discipline does not exist solely for the money. And the people are not in it for ALL the wrong reasons.

      Of course I’m not defending show jumping, just making some comparisons between it and racing.
      Racing is the bottom of the barrel for the horse.

  6. The horse racing people are fighting a losing battle to survive. The sport is inherently cruel. With the internet, the cruelty has no where to hide. It is being outed, and the sport is picking up an ugly connotation. The end date of horse racing is written on the wall, if those of us who care about these poor animals keep pushing like we have been.

  7. I applaud paulicks efforts to hold the industry accountable,, i dont see any others even bothering, but it is simply because paulicks a horseplayer and wants to protect the game he loves and has vested interest bottom line. Ray and his team went out on a limb for me finding a horse i couldnt after the trainer told me to find him myself,im very thankful for that because they all know im no fan and absolutely hate what racing is and does to the horse ,but still took the time to find the horse. In the same respect im also banned from commenting for speaking the truth about deaths at saratoga citing i cant make unsubstantiated charges ( the numbers dont lie ray) ….quite a conflict huh? How much ray paulick cares about racehorses i cant say but he does get paid for advertising on his site and im sure thats hit based, so quite the incentive to write pressing stories on the industry, so while i might give him credit i know the reason behind it. I am bothered by the fact he brings up these pa horse abuse stories to where a jockeys beating a horse or a trainers drugging a horse the commission dropped the ball again ect ect….wheres the mention of the abuse the public doesnt see first? Where the story about the penn national horses being run into the ground? No mention of horses like divine kitten a 4yr old 51 starts 5 as a 2yr old 26 as a 3yr old has 20 starts this year. Peggy says it better then i can but its a sham its dishonesty its blatent animal abuse that is supported by our states for monitary gains…..places like pa that are enacting new and stronger animal abuse laws but continue to support the blatent abuse of racehorses citing a billion dollar ecnomic impact yearly( someone should check those numbers ) and 23,000 jobs and in this state the subsidies for racing are also protected by law. So while paulick and the government will continue to bash racing and hold it accountable they also want it for their own vested interest. I thank you dearly patricK, horseracing wrongs for the truth of this industry being exposed for what it truely is….and there is no fixing it, it is an ingrained culture the majority involved, this is the only way they know all the stories everyone hears and reads has been going on for decades

      • I give him credit for holding the industry accountable, and speaking out about the abuse of racehorses. Regardless his reason his voice is appreciated and much needed.

      • Paulick’s concern, Billy, is for the betting public. He made that very clear once again in what he just had to say about the 2-year-old filly Toluca Lake. It’s impossible to talk about how bettors get a “raw deal” because of “damaged gambling tools” without mentioning those tools are the horses. He’s not a voice for the horses – he’s a mouthpiece for the industry that is hurting and killing them.

  8. And you know, Paulick isn’t even unique – just read posts and comments by racing apologists on social media and the self-incrimination, well, I liken it to projectile vomiting. I, too, have wondered what it is – are they really THAT stupid? Or THAT arrogant? I think it’s a combination of both with a large helping of unsolicited EXPOSURE stirred in – they have GOT to attempt damage control because their ugly secrets just keep coming.

    Here, just one example of the several “revelations” I read on Twitter yesterday – and it started with a tweet about a 2-year-old filly, Toluca Lake, who was still raced after flipping behind the gate at Penn National. Surprisingly (or maybe not?), the tweet, which included a video of the filly rearing up and falling onto her back, started out with “How would you like to have bet on this horse…?” – definitely the STUPID we were discussing (he might want to at least try to appear compassionate)…

    -so Hinkle Farms replies; “This exact thing happened to us at Gulfstream…they let the filly run [after having flipped over onto her back] – she was awful – turns out she fractured her withers.”

    -and from Sid Gustafson DVM, in response to a comment that encouraged those “who think this is wrong” [so what caring person WOULDN’T think it’s wrong!] to contact the racing commission and demand change; “Been there, done that.”

    BUT WAIT!…there’s more! Dr. Gustafson elaborates when he’s nudged to “keep doing it” [contacting the RC] and to do it “over and over and over”; “You have to appreciate that regulatory veterinarians who scratch too many horses that flip or show up lame to race, lose their jobs. Those vets who advocate for elimination of pre-race meds, likewise.”

    Read that one more time to make certain you read that right. Yep, you did.

    Keep it coming, insiders and apologists – we appreciate the help.

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