The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Scathing Piece on PA Horseracing

The Philadelphia Inquirer, which has twice before decried the corporate welfare flowing to that state’s moribund horseracing industry, took aim again yesterday – this time focusing more on the cruelty and death. In the article, “Betting on horses’ lives,” journalist Sam Wood – with whom I spent a great deal of time – lays out a grim picture, opening with this:

“Racehorses are dying in staggering numbers at Pennsylvania tracks. Since 2010, state racing officials have tallied more than 1,400 thoroughbred deaths. Most of those horses were put down following catastrophic injuries that happened during a race or in training. Others dropped dead in their stalls.”

While (as usual with the media on this) the piece gives outsize attention to drugs, it also has moments of clarity. On the killing: “Even if a horse is drug-free, the physics of a 1,200-pound athlete rocketing down the track at 40 mph creates an extraordinary stress on the animal’s fragile legs.” And the cruelty: “The life of a horse falls into a downward spiral as it cycles through the trading that comes with claiming races.”

Of course, there’s plenty more on that obscene corporate welfare: “almost $3 billion in the last decade alone, more money than the state has given to any other industry.” In short, Wood writes, “The slots money keeps the industry afloat, paying for about 90% of all prizes and providing extra bonuses for Pennsylvania-bred horses.” Adds Russell Redding, PA’s agriculture secretary: “After a $3 billion investment, racing still isn’t stable. Why should we continue to invest?”

Of more import, the big picture: “That’s why some animals-right activists say the sport is irredeemable. These advocates simply want to end it, much as dog racing has disappeared in most of the United States. … ‘The killing is built into the system,’ said Patrick Battuello, the New York state-based operator of Battuello is leading a push to end racing, pressuring legislatures across the country with letter-writing campaigns and protests outside tracks.”

(full article here)

Governor Wolf has twice called for bringing those massive subsidies home (to education). Please lend your support – and pressure the state’s other power brokers:

Governor Wolf: phone/contact/social media
Lt. Governor Fetterman: 717-787-3300; twitter; facebook
Senate Leaders
House Leaders


  1. Hit up New Jersey also: Sen.Bob Menendez at 528 Hart Senate Office Bldg. Washington, DC 20510.Phone is 202 224 4744 or Congressman Andy Kim at 2444 Rayburn HOB,Washington,DC . 20515. Phone 202 225 4765. Congressman Kim does listen to people.

    • Hi Nancy, thank you for reaching out to New Jersey legislators! Our Facebook Action Group has included New Jersey in Action Alerts and we will do another next week. Keep reaching out and encourage friends and family to do so as well! Thank you for being a voice for the horses!

    • Hey, Nancy.. I remember when I called Dianne Feinstein’s office..and got an immediate response,and felt so hopeful..that was after Mongolian Groom was killed by those Ca. assholes. I know you remember how bad his murder hit me.

      • Bonnie, yes I do. We could not fathom that beautiful MG standing there with his injured leg.

  2. Thank You. As a resident of Pennsylvania I have been contacting my representatives in the house and senate monthly. I also send messages to Governor Wolf supporting his efforts to shut down horseracing in Pennsylvania.

  3. Thank you Philadelphia Inquirer for raising awareness of the creuelty of horseracing. Also, I encourage Pennsylvanians to contact their elected officials.

Comments are closed.