Progress: Philadelphia Inquirer Blasts Racing’s Corporate Welfare – Again

For the second time in two years, The Philadelphia Inquirer’s editorial board blasted the commonwealth for propping up its horseracing industry (to the tune of some $3 billion since 2004). This time, however, the paper also mentioned ever-increasing outrage over dead racehorses, something, I say with pride, we’ve had much to do with. This, coming as it does from Pennsylvania’s largest newspaper, and the governor’s recent proposal to redirect those subsidies toward education are clear indications that times are changing – and fast. With the pressure ratcheting-up, can action – and the sure demise of Pennsylvania horseracing – be far behind?

Here are excerpts (full editorial here).

“For 16 years, Pennsylvania has been saddled with an obligation to prop up a flailing horse race industry. Since [2004], the industry has gotten close to $3 billion dollars from … slot machines. That’s a lot of money — about $240 million per year — that should have by now stabilized and improved the sector. It hasn’t. [A]lmost every data point connected to the performance of Pennsylvania racing shows a decline. The number of wagers, the number of races, the number of horses, the purses paid, and the attendance at tracks: all in decline, a trend going back years.

“Layer those problems on top of growing outcry over the treatment and deaths of racehorses around the country. Starting in 2018, for example, a rash of horse deaths at Santa Anita Park in California led one industry commenter to note, ‘Poorly bred, overraced, exhausted horses being whipped toward the finish line is not a sport; it’s an exercise in sadistic exploitation.’

“A report last year by PennLive/Patriot-News revealed that 87 horses died in Pennsylvania in 2018 alone [it’s actually more; see my report]. [W]e have to ask, not for the first time: Why are we subsidizing this?

“Those supporting the industry claim that the money supports agricultural jobs which boosts the state economy, and by funding bigger purses, more people will bet. The reality doesn’t back that up. With so many critical and human problems this state faces, the unquestioning propping up of an industry that has shown no promise of improving is outrageous. That’s why Gov. Wolf gets credit for his latest proposal to use about $200 million of that annual money to fund scholarships for Pennsylvania students to attend Pennsylvania colleges. It’s about time.”

Indeed it is.

14 Comments

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  1. Thank God …Patrick, keep these posts coming! It is amazing to read that at least some media outlets are finally waking up. “It’s about time”
    Thanks for everything you do for the beautiful horses! Congrats!!

  2. Thank you, Patrick, for being so persistent and for your perseverance in reporting on the realities of the DARK SIDE of horseracing. It is absolutely sickening and disturbing to know and to read about the horrors of horseracing and that some people still refuse to acknowledge these unacceptable cruelties committed on horses for some morbidly depraved “entertainment” and gambling. It is definitely refreshing to know that there are some people that can make a drastic change in how horseracing is funded and, eventually, will make that long overdue change!

  3. YAY!!! To read this and actually smile and not cry should give us all hope that one day horseracing will end for good. I say ‘thank you’ Patrick, you are these majestic horses voice…

  4. All the credit for recent public enlightenment — and horse racing’s avalanche of bad press — should absolutely go to this site, its founder, staff, and volunteers. It’s just weird that those in the racing industry are desperately critical of the wrong group. PETA this, and PETA that, they say.

    “What are you, a PETA member?”
    “If PETA gets its way…”
    “PETA’s trying to shut down racing!”

    I want to remind them all that PETA (and the Humane Society, and the ASPCA, and every other known animal advocacy group) should be the least of their worries. Those groups are NOT fighting to end this never-ending-horror-show known as U.S. horse racing; the (erroneous) position of those groups is that horse racing can somehow be REFORMED. It can’t. In fact, by all legitimate measures, the carnage is getting worse, not better.
    Groups like PETA give racing waaaaaay more credit than it will ever deserve. But, I believe they’ll eventually figure it out, and finally catch up to Horseracing Wrongs:)

    • Kelly, I believe that PETA deserves a lot of credit for bringing awareness to animal abuse including racehorses as well as other hideous things to other kinds of animals that would turn your stomach. I think they have their place so to speak. They bring attention to other heinous acts against animals other than horses. I will be forever grateful for their showing on YouTube what these insanely cruel “people” do to yearling Thoroughbreds under saddle being prepped for the so-called prestigious (barf) Fasig-Tipton auction sale. It is eye-opening for someone like me that would never otherwise be in a position to see such hideous and heinous abuse to baby horses. It is disappointing that PETA, for whatever reason, cannot carry the ball, or torch, any further than asking for reform. However, it does still help to shine a light on the DARK SIDE OF HORSERACING in their capacity to do so. Of course, HORSERACING WRONGS takes the ball, or torch, further which is awesome!

      • Agreed, Wanda. They take a stand against a lot of cruelties and atrocities on animals of all types. I’m not trying to bash them like the confused racing folks are. I just happen to disagree with their official position on horse racing — that reforms will somehow curtail the deaths and the abuses intrinsic in this anti-sport. But, like I said, I think they’ll come around. How could anybody who cares about animals not?

      • If reforms could work, that would be something. It’s become more and more evident to me that the racing industry is incapable of reforming themselves. The basic mentality is to use horses in the most cruel and inhumane ways possible in horseracing. It’s about producing large numbers of horses/foals every year to put them through “the meat grinder” or the grueling torture of carrying a rider on their back and run and run fast starting at an age that is fundamentally wrong! As long as they are more concerned about money than the horses, the racing people will never be reformed or bother to reform themselves. In gambling, nobody cares about the horses except the money that a $2 ticket can return if the horse wins, places, or shows. As you know, the Futurities, Derby, and all of the most coveted races in horseracing are designed for horses that are not even close to being mature enough to withstand the extreme stress on their bones, tendons, and soft tissues. It’s a barbaric activity. It doesn’t allow for a reform mentality because it is incorrigible animal abuse to begin with.

  5. Thank-you Patrick for providing the link to this article.
    I read the entire article and it’s so nice that people and our communities are finally starting to realize what exactly is going on and why horse racing subsidies need to end.
    However, the comment section of the article is dominated by pro-horse racing apologists who are outright bullying anybody who supports the article and the stance to stop funding this business.
    Make no doubt about it, horse racing thinks that they are entitled to this money and that nobody, not even our state government, has the right to take away this money.
    This stance is clearly reflected in the comment section of the article.
    It never ceases to amaze me how the horse racing apologists spend so much time fighting to keep their handouts so that they can continue to exploit and kill racehorses yet you never see them fighting to keep a racehorse out of the kill pen that’s about to board a slaughterbound truck do you?
    Or how about fight to shut down a business that kills racehorses daily?
    These people don’t care about our communities, our educational system and/or our children.
    All they care about is using their millions in handouts to abuse their disposable gambling chips.
    They are vile parasites – nothing more, nothing less and they don’t deserve one dime in any subsidy, handout, taxpayers money and/or corporate welfare – call it what you will, but just stop it.

  6. The owners and breeders look at these horses as a commercial product such as toilet paper and as expendable as the toilet paper you just flushed.

  7. This bloodsport must stop! You bet … they die. Time for this antiquated sport to go away permanently. Thank you for writing this well informed article.

  8. The racing industry must be going positively rabid about this. Interestingly I found an article from a pro killing, I mean, racing, site that point blank said that Horseracing Wrongs spreads lies about the industry – “lies” that are substantiated by network news coverage of horses dying from horrendous injuries in horrifying numbers, and not just at one track, but at tracks all across America EVERY SINGLE DAY. “Lies” that are (grudgingly) disclosed by the racing industry itself on what its “beloved athletes” are forced to endure: severed spines, fractured shoulders, splintered legs, laminitis, colic, internal hemorrhaging, head-on collisions, and their epidemic of sudden deaths. It’s a fair question from anyone – why ARE we funding this horror show? What other “sport” is permitted to torture nonconsenting participants, in front of an audience no less, while leaning on a financial crutch from the government? What has horse racing given to society that it’s continued existence should be considered a necessary evil to be tolerated, defended, and even supported? It’s time for racing to prove why anyone needs an antiquated sport that has been carried on the broken bodies of its victims with nothing to show for itself but a trail of blood.

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