Zero Oversight in Maine

Through a FOIA request to the Maine Dept. of Agriculture, I was able to confirm the following death in Maine last year. However, this disclosure was basically a fluke, for as has been the case for the past several years the initial response was this:

“Mr. Battuello: Our Department does not possess this information as this is not something that is reported to nor tracked by the Department. You may want to contact the individual Maine tracks directly for the information you seek.”

To which I asked: “So who regulates horseracing in Maine? There must be a specific state agency and if so, shouldn’t it have knowledge of how many horses died?”

I then received the single death-report with this note: “The only record in our department’s possession regarding a horse that died in 2019 is attached.”

Unsatisfied, I wrote back: “Is there someone I can contact at the Maine Harness Racing Commission? There has to be an authority that keeps records of horse fatalities.”

Their answer: “This is the response directly from the Director of the Maine Harness Racing Commission… ‘We don’t track that information and we’re not inclined to. It’s just that we happened to have one responsive document this year.'”

They’re “not inclined” to keep track of their dead “athletes.” Just when you think they can no longer surprise – cannot more disgust – you, they lower the bar. Curiously, I did receive the requested information from this exact same department my very first try back in 2014. But nothing since. Anyhow, here is that dead horse:

unidentified Standardbred, Aug 5, Cumberland Fair S
“The horse was wavering on his feet…within seconds he fell…regained his feet with our assistance. He then unsteadily went down again. I gave him a corticosteroid, but he steadily decreased in his respiration and awareness until he died within a few minutes. He behaved as if heavily sedated, more in line with heart failure.”

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  1. Mr. Battuello, Would it be helpful, if, you drafted a letter, post it to your website where we who want to help, could copy and send to our respective state officials. We could share this letter with all of our equine friends as well. There is no doubt in my mind that you could craft a letter that would fit everyone using it. We could do it in the next couple of months where by we are Springing into action to make 2020 the year the number of dead race horses goes down, eventually ending. All best always, remember, you’re not alone. Pamela Cingano

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  2. “Not inclined to” track the deaths of the horses they love like their own children. I’m sure it’s because it would just be too heartbreaking to catalog the severed spines, broken shoulders, splintered legs, severe head trauma, colic, laminitis, heart failure, and those tragic and annoyingly frequent “unexplained deaths”. It couldn’t possibly be because they don’t give a shit about the animals they abuse and exploit for cheap bets and entertainment. Of course not.

    • Rebecca, as we know racing, at every level, does not give a damn about the horses. From the day they hit the track to the day they are killed on the track, drop dead in the stalls, or where ever, to when they are loaded on to the abominable slaughter-bound trucks to face a ghastly death, they are just disposable chattel.
      Racing lives a lie.

      • Rose, yes racing lives a lie because there are still those that believe the lies. Once again, here is a quote from Mark Twain…


        Enough said!

  3. This is so wrong on so many levels, I just feel horrible to know these serial-horse-abusers-and-killers can get away with this horror and, as if their evil, vile, degenerate moral depravity of killing horses isn’t bad enough, they answer to no legal authority and suffer no punishment.
    This one unidentified Standardbred was killed by evil people that can only be considered the equivalent of the puke of the earth. I speculate that this Standardbred may have had a vascular rupture and bled to death on the inside. These degenerate people do not deserve to own horses let alone use them for anything. In true horsemanship, a killing of a horse by running it to death would not ever happen. Who knows how many other horses were killed by degenerate and perverted serial-horse-abusers-and-killers in Maine because they seem to have a free pass to get away with murder. Ban horseracing! Save horses lives.

  4. Any information on Occam’s Razor, Patrick? I’m pretty sure Doug O’Neill would hate to have to concede another horse death, after all he’s done “for horse racing.” Still, DNF/Vanned off in the 5th at Oaklawn doesn’t sound very hopeful.

  5. Isn’t it important to anyone that a horse doesn’t have to go past the point where he’s no longer breathing through his nose he hast to breathe through his mouth and she which reduces all the oxygen into the body with the carbon monoxide and causes the organs to stress and could cause a heart attack and this is how far you want to push these animals?? Also let’s not forget all in the name of money… Always changes the outcome of how the process changes from abuse animal abuse to non-profit and profit gain a loss of money so if your thought is your word you’re going to lose money if you don’t force the horse to work at total capacity and beyond to the point where they have to die…
    Then maybe you shouldn’t have a racers license be able to raise Horses or One won’t even

  6. Another horrific list of racehorses whom are the victims of the lowest form of parasites on the planet.
    This track opens for the ‘horsemen” AKA HBPA to tap into the stable public coffers – no other reason.
    Zippo transparency and accountability while receiving life support from public coffers – unacceptable.
    Yesterday, I perused the “Result Charts” from some of the more popular tracks and they are all horrific.
    Racehorses dying is vile, but in EVERY SINGLE RACE at EVERY SINGLE TRACK there were racehorses suffering greatly.
    All of these racehorses barely made it through the race on their own volition as reflected in the chart writing: “eased,” “weakened” “gave way” “strong right-handed urging” (being beaten incessantly in other words).
    Blatant racehorse cruelty, abuse, and inhumane treatment that would be illegal in any other setting in America.
    Then the abuse leading up to the race;the extensive doping/shock wave therapy that’s never reported nor are their pre-existing conditions as they suffer in silence.
    If they make it out alive than a life of neglect, kill auctions, and bleeding out on the slaughterhouse floor usually awaits them unless some miracle happens and it mostly doesn’t come from this multi-billion dollar industry because they view them as their disposable gambling chips.
    Stop this now. BAN horse racing. Get rid of this death and viper pit. It’s bad all around.

  7. Harness racing isn’t incline to report its deaths because there is almost none, go fuck yourself Patrick. How about that ? Our horses live a better life than you do.

      • For about 30 seconds, Patrick…a particular killpen had Standardbreds packed in like sardines several days ago. Too many to count…all begging for their lives. As usual, no one from the racing industry hurried there with trailers to take them all home – of course not, they were the ones who dumped them.

    • I saw a race at a harness track 2 days ago. 2 of the horses in the race were head bobbing lame. Guess no one, including the vet, cared. Bet those horses are pulling an Amish buggy down the road today, still crippled. No, Justin, they don’t die at the same rate as thoroughbreds, but most of their ultimate fate is much worse. Pounding on hard concrete pulling an Amish buggy for miles seems like a luxurious retirement, no? Then to be dumped at a kill pen when they are done with that to meet their death in a slaughterhouse is showing such compassion from the harness racing community. Comic relief for sure.

      • I work with someone who is a harness trainer, and she had a filly who injured herself racing. As she said, “I hate to think about it, but we had to sell her because she just wouldn’t heal, and we needed to recoup some cost on her. So we amished her out. I loved her so much, she was cute, but then I had to step back emotionally and disengage myself from her. Hopefully they use her as a broodmare or something.”

    • I would like to make a comment here directed at the post by the “thug” – Justin Sodano. Sodano is the same “thug” that threatened to make Patrick “disappear” a couple months ago when a group of “thugs” from WSHR suggested vandalizing bus benches in California. Now Sodano has said, and I quote, “These people (protestors) are very lucky I was with my horse racing at Yonkers last night and not the one racing at the Meadowlands. I’d be the first person to throw ice water on them out in the cold.” Certainly the ice water threat from the “thug” isn’t as serious as the threat to make Patrick “disappear” (and, yes, I do have documentation) but it is a physical threat, nonetheless. Perhaps Sodano is too stupid to grasp that people have a right to protest in this country for causes they believe in.

      I encouraged Patrick, once again, to report Sodano to the racing authorities in NY and I also supported Patrick posting Sodano’s comment here. It is important for those who are straddling the fence in regards to the elimination of horseracing to see for themselves that the “thugs” in racing are ready with physical threats against those who aren’t doing anything illegal. Again, in case this a slow day for the “thugs,” protesting is a RIGHT in this country.

      I do have to agree with Sodano on one issue. He is lucky that he wasn’t racing at Meadowlands if I had been protesting there because I can reassure the “thug” that I wouldn’t have hesitated to file charges against him if he had thrown ANYTHING on me. Seems like the “thug” needs a lesson in responsible behavior versus criminal behavior!

      • I agree with reporting anyone committing a criminal act against another person. I would be very happy to see the serial-horse-abusers-and-killers arrested and convicted for their heinous acts against horses.

      • Not a bit surprised with the words and actions of this “thug”, Mary. I’ve been shown he is a supporter of the We Support Horse Racing group – a group that aligns themselves with the PRO-SLAUGHTER organization Protect the Harvest. Yes, a pro-racing group encourages the views of PTH – that’s telling. But not surprising.

    • “Our horses live a better life than you do”.Of course they do, Justin Sodano, especially on the comfortable truck ride to be slaughtered after your “sport” is finished with them.
      Racing takes NO RESPONSIBILITY for their horses once they are no longer “useful”. And they are no longer “useful” at a young age because of the drugs, the injections, the shockwave, even pin firing,… anything to keep running them with their inevitable injuries and gastrointestinal tracts peppered with painful ulcers. Great lives, indeed!!!

    • Quite a few years ago, the founder of New Vocations, who was also a Standardbred owner/trainer/breeder at the time, told me that they “injected their horses all the time to keep them going.” She then quickly added that they were lucky since the horses they injected never had chips and then stated “knock on wood.” I found that to be reprehensible then and I find it to be reprehensible now.

      I consider this woman to whom I have attributed the quote above to be one of the better people in racing. I actually liked and respected her then and I still do but I feel it is a sad commentary that someone who injects their horses to keep them going is someone I consider to be better than most. She was always kind and gracious to me and took in so many horses dumped by the industry in which she made her living.

      I made this post because of Sodano’s comment that racing’s horses live a better life than “we” do. Anyone who believes that will believe that the earth is flat and is just plain stupid. Drugs, injections, confinement, whipping, ulcers….need I go on? That doesn’t sound like a good life for any horse or human! I think Sodano must be living in his delusional world!

      • The people who think racehorses live a good life, or anything resembling a good life, are not feeling the pain of injuries including broken bones and muscle spasms, the pain of EVERYDAY SORENESS, the pain of being shocked with electricity, the pain of being whipped, or anything that causes pain to horses. If only we, as a society, could lock these serial-horse-abusers-and-killers up in a 2′ x 4′ cell and only let them out in shackles to work hard manual labor, we could tell them they have a good life.

    • Standardbreds FILL notorious auctions and killpens – just today, a rescuer had this to say; “Very disappointed in Standardbred rescues not helping the Standardbreds at Moore’s. No one is helping them.”

      I’m sure she’s frustrated – but the rescues are overflowing with racehorses and struggling with too-few donation dollars. The RACING INDUSTRY needs to provide their horses with homes. Racing breeders/owners/trainers want the “right” to use the horses to make their living – but then they refuse the responsibility for their horses’ life-long care once they are finished getting every last dollar from their labors.

      And the horses live a “better life”, Justin Sodano? – are you referring to those horses YOU stated have their joints injected even though they are sound? – you know, there are “quite a few guys” who do that…

  8. Joy, can you share which state the kill pen full of Standardbreds is in? I’m thinking it could be Pennsylvania.

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