Yes, Racing Is Fully Responsible for Horses Killed in Belmont Fire

A barn fire at Belmont Park last night has resulted in the deaths of two racehorses; the New York Racing Association has yet to release identifying information other than to say they were trained by Wayne Potts.

By now, you should know our position on this. While the racing people are busy consoling and congratulating themselves with talk of “tragedy” and “heroism” (for getting the other horses out), they utterly ignore the core, uncomfortable, inconvenient fact: Like the civil war soldiers who were felled by dysentery but still recorded (unequivocally) as casualties, so too are racehorses who die in their stalls industry kills – no matter the immediate cause. Yes, fires can and do happen anywhere, but if not for racing, those poor, terrified horses would not have been in that place, at that time. And lest we forget, as domesticated (read: enslaved) animals, their natural autonomy had long since been stripped. They were trapped – figuratively and literally – inside a system, inside a stall, wholly dependent on human beings for everything, including their lives. And that is a cruelty in and of itself. So, yes, this is a tragedy, but the larger tragedy is the industry that made it possible.

62 Comments

  1. Like the racing industry actually cared about these horses beyond the money that American Sailor might have potentially brought in. Keeping horses locked in stalls is one of the cruelest things even people who actually love their horses could do. Think about how prisons punish criminals: by locking them in cells and denying them basic freedom. And they deserve it. Horses are at the full mercy of the whims of whoever owns them.

  2. As I’ve seen numerous people ask on twitter- why is there no fire suppression system in place? At a track where numerous barns are in close proximity and there are possibly 100 horses in a barn, why is this not in place in this day and age?
    The NYRA press release made a point of touting how many jobs and how much income racing provides the state of New York, and yet they can’t spend a few thousand dollars to provide even the most basic protection to their horses

    • Actually, they are supposed to have it…wonder if it was operating. All barns were equipped over 30 years ago…

      • Good question, and if not, why not.
        I know I was involved in an incident years ago where a groom caught a bag on fire cooking oats for the horses. Within minutes there was a gray haze in the barn, and it smelled like a fire. Sad part is, everyone shrugged it off, and the sprinklers never went off. That barn was full. It would have been a nightmare to get all those horses out when people finally would’ve realized the shit hit the fan.

  3. Good God! If they don’t kill them while racing they kill them while “training” If that doesn’t work, they lock them up and let them burn alive. These poor souls are doomed from the day they are born and this devoid of any empathy whatsoever, demented industry refuses to give them a break. I cannot even imagine the terror as the fire engulfed the barn. One would think there would be state of the art fire extinguishers given how much money these excrements are making off these horses’ backs.

  4. There is no excuse for a fire in a barn where animals are kept. The fire had to have been caused by outright carelessness or it was started on purpose. What insurance company would pay out on a situation like this either to the horse owners or the barn owners? I feel sorry the horses!!!! SMH!
    It appears that the Police and Fire Departments need to be making periodic inspections more often to keep dereliction of duty on behalf of the NYRA to a minimum in the fire safety hazard aspect of horseracing.

    • Hey Wanda,do not expect the Police or the Fire Dept. to get too involved in this tragic incident. These two groups,know only too well what goes on behind these wrought iron fences on Hemp.Tpke and Plainfield Rd.of Elmont and So.Floral Park.This incident will either be swept under the carpet or blamed on some poor innocent schmuck hot walker or groom,who barely speaks English.NYRA security will be ordered to pick up the usual suspects and pick one unlucky poor soul to pin this on.YES! YES! there is a sprinkler system at Belmont. But just like in the movies when you expect to see the incriminating evidence,on the surveillance cameras.Guess what,they were not working that night. In this case the sprinklers were turned off for some reason,you can only imagine the B.S. excuse that NYRA will come up with. Heck,I’ll even help NYRA out,this is the time of the year the sprinkler system was being tested or flushed out,and someone forgot to turn them back on. The scenario could have also occurred,something like this,Trainer Wayne Potts is relatively the new kid on the block at NYRA,he is also a very capable horseman. Some people get very territorial,jealous or believe it’s their duty to keep things as they are. Maybe NYRA has,in house enforcers to “TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS”when certain people don’t heed their warnings or does as they say. Another strong possibility, could be that Potts unknowing stepped on someone’s toes. They don’t like that at NYRA,Trainer Potts may be perceived as an intruder,who will do well. “Jealoussy” MAYBE”. Again,don’t expect a legit investigation.There is a very good chance NYRA has the police taken care of.Maybe not,what do you think? Now if you’ve already declared me a lunatic. Here is the CLINCHER!just maybe all of this tragedy happened over stall space. BIG Trainers are coming in for the Belmont Meet in a week.There may not be enough stalls,someone has to go. Maybe somebody doesn’t want to leave.Could it be,this could have been a war-ning for Potts or was this the result of Potts not heeding the war-Ning from NYRA. You know,similar to a tenant, once he’s in they refuse to leave. In the civilized world you go to Landlord,Tenent court.Funny, I’ve never heard anyone say NYRA was a civilized world,have you? What a crime,and the truth will never come to light.One more shame,the horses suffer at the hands of these NYRA MAGGOTS.

      • Everything you said in this comment makes logical sense, Sophie. It’s no secret that the NYRA cares more about the business of brutally exploiting horses for money than it does about the horses. Why else would they continue to kill horses on a regular basis?! Burning two horses to death to drive home a point to someone the “organization” doesn’t like is not much different than killing horses on the racetrack by running them to death in that horseracing is horse killing.

        • Hey Wanda,These incidents really do happen at NYRA. I was just recently talking to a federal investigator.He said to me if you tell people on the outside(non-horse people) they think you’re making these stories up,they don’t believe what goes on behind Belmonts fences.Most people would not believe someone on NYRA grounds would harm a horse.This could not be further from the truth.In order to manipulate, NYRA will stop at nothing.They are of no morals.

          • Yes, Sophie, I do understand what you’re saying. It is shocking to see, hear or read about these heinous and criminal acts being committed practically every day against race horses. Can you believe that a storage space business with extra tight security could selectively steal the possessions of a grieving woman who had recently lost her mother and trusted this particular storage space rental business to keep her treasured memories/ possessions safe? Well, it did happen. Horrific and horrible things are shocking and unbelievable, but we know they happen.

    • Wanda,if you have not noticed by now,NYRA always drives on a two way street.The street of dereliction of duty disguised as Accident Blvd and the street of evil also known as the crossroads of Criminality and Unconscionable. Of course this is only the opinion of a crazy person.

    • Wanda,you know deep down,periodic inspections was not going to stop this fire from occurring. Nothing was going to stop this from happening.This is a ruthless bunch of Vermon.I was told a long time ago,and I never will forget these words. “If NYRA doesn’t like you,they will do something to your horses.” Those words stayed with me,words will stay with you a long time if they sent an uncomfortable chill up your spine in the first place. They pick on the horse because the horse is a sitting target. They’ll drop two subtle hints to you directly,if you don’t pick up on the two subtle hints and act according to their wishes,then the horse will pay for it. They are not only cowards,but they police themselves,the only thing that will get the police onto NYRA grounds is a “HOMICIDE” anything else,I believe is in an unwritten agreement between the POLICE and NYRA. So long as NYRA shows its “GRATITUDE” to the POLICE as in the 5th precinct on Dutch Broadway ,the Police understand NYRA is just no longer in their jurisdiction,so NYRA can get away with whatever it chooses to do. Believe me the police and the fire dept. will do a fancy superficial investigation and find nothing suspicious,close the case,and then they will put any further investigations regarding the fire into NYRAs hands,and we all know where that investigation is going. (in the annals of history,under the carpet as goes the dust swept by a lazy barn worker sweeping his shed row.All too soon to be forgotten about.) Again who is the PAWN in this game?All to make a point,to prove nobody @#$&’* with NYRA. Oh I would be remiss if I didn’t say who the trainer was who told me NYRA would do something to your horse if they didn’t like you. Can’t do it,he’s’ still active.

    • Wanda,if the horse was insured,everyone involved doling out the monies and or receiving monies would be getting a kick back.For his efforts,even the scumbag who took on the assignment.He would be getting the smallest amount,because he is the lowest on the totem pole.Still, a nice days pay for going up against a harmless horse housed in a tinder box of a stall napping and unknowingly taking their last breaths,while some piece of shit sprayed some excelllorent onto the bedding and then a lit cigarette,casually tossing it into the stall as if he was just walking through to visit a friend. All of this scenario of course is just one crazy persons opinion and would never happen at NYRA. Call the F.B.I. In to investigate this one.

      • Sophie, I am reminded of a line quoted by Bob Baffert when I read your second to last line: “All of this scenario…would never happen at NYRA.”
        From Horseracing Wrongs post: “Teflon Bob” Escapes Again, there is a link to an article by Tim Sullivan about Baffert’s drug violations in ARKANSAS. Baffert’s quote is as follows: “I really don’t feel we did anything wrong,” Baffert told the commission. “We know for sure we did not administer lidocaine; it came from somewhere. I wanted to clear my name. We don’t operate that way. I’m very proud of my operation. We would never take some kind of edge.”

  5. EVERYONE should contact the N.Y.R.A. president. This is a SIN . Why no sprinkler system? The people involved in horse racing are pure EVIL. Governor Cuomo should also be contacted. DO NOT let them get away with this SIN.

    • Bonnie race 1 Parx Our Care Bear was on the list today
      I know you monitor her wellbeing

    • Bonnie, Do you believe that NYRA president will do anything? He’s at the top of this shit show,top of this crap pile called NYRA.Trust me,nothing there,look somewhere else,if you want to continue to spin your wheels.There are sprinklers at Belmont Park,mysteriously they did not do their job. If I’m not mistaken Govenor Cuomo was a horse owner years ago with close ties to NYRA. Supposedly gave it up once entering politics. Maybe, Maybe Not.He seemed to be very found of Anthony Bonomo,who He appointed NYRAs chairman of the board of directors,until Bonomo got him and his company involved in the Dean Skelos and his thuggish looking son’s Scandal.Bonnie,wants answers?🤠To use Ricky D’s phraseology,look elsewhere BABE!

      • Why should anyone look anywhere else? You are basically implying that the NYRA President is guilty and that Gov. Cuomo is basically his enabler. Are you implying that we should all just look the other way?

        • My comments are all circumstantial evidence or what you may say is a gut feeling or intuition.These do not get you an indictment. This is the racetrack,and nobody see’s anything,nobody says anything,nobody hears anything.Just look at the Servis/Navarro case.Obvious these two and others were winning at unusually high rates,horse people knew,and many probably knew what they were using.But it took phone surveillance to get solid evidence.So do you really think anyone is going to get enough evidence for an indictment regarding the Belmont fire. This fire even could have had the help of one of Potts employees. NYRA may even call this a disgruntled worker,a just another case of an employee getting stiffed on his pay.I won’t buy that. This is what it is.

          • I understand the difference between verbal accusations, or hearsay, and documented evidence that will hold up in a court of law. I also understand that justice is a commodity; if you can’t pay for it (JUSTICE), you don’t get it (JUSTICE). That translates into no real justice will be served in cases where there is no money, or not enough money, to pay for the attorney’s fees that will seek justice.

      • Isn’t it so convenient that somehow the cameras were not on that evening. I have no respect or faith in NY. We CANNOT let them get away with ALL this BULLSHIT. They must be MADE to answer, AND pay the price.

        • Dear Bonnie, There are no cameras at Belmont Racetrack. Why would the criminals want to be surveillanced on video tape. Trainers of some larger stables have surveillance cameras, so long as they pay for it. One of the most elaborate surveillance systems I’ve seen at Belmont was that of Trainer David Jacobson. Every stall had its own camera with a panel of monitors,to view everything.Here was a trainer who was successful,he came into the game with money but he also came with a history.His father was a trainer who always seemed to be at odds with NYRA,something about organizing and unionizing backstretch workers. NYRA holds on to a grudge. To me this seemed to be the reason ,Jacobson had such an elaborate surveillance system. He was not wanted by NYRA and I guess the (;if NYRA doesn’t like you they will do something to your horses) this might have something to do with Jacobson being out of the business and the reason for his elaborate camera surveillance system.

          • It’s been said that Belmont Park does have a fire-suppression sprinkler system. It’s been said it was turned off. So that was convenient for someone to burn two live horses to death as a form of retaliation, wasn’t it?

  6. Actually, they are supposed to have it…wonder if it was operating. All barns were equipped over 30 years ago…

    • Oh dear God I know Nancy, what a FACE American Sailor had!!!!!!! A gorgeous horse who was Soooooo good and kind. It shouldn’t have happened to HIM. I had a very hectic day today,so I’m glad I didn’t see about Our Claire Bear. I’m just sick about American Sailor… I can’t take it.

  7. Exactly! If those horses had been there, they would probably still be alive!

  8. First off fires can happen anywhere at anytime. The racing industry is NOT responsible for this. Bc of our heroic racing community the rest of the barn was saved. Trainers were risking their lives to pull them out. Although I do not agree with some of the way trainers go about training their horses (breakdowns) etc. Horses provide an income for countless people, children etc. without the horses many many people wouldn’t have jobs. Wayne Potts takes excellent care of his horses. You are writing arcticles based on judgement. They are treated well. Although I think horses should get a chance to go out in the round pen more often. Being locked in a stall is not habitat natural . I’ve seen it all , I would know, I’ve worked on the backstretch in New York for almost 15 years . The trainers that have horse breakdowns happen all the time is where the real problem is. Nystrong

      • Fires happen far more often than at the racetrack, they happen at boarding facilities and farms, you can not blame this on horse racing!!

        • Harry, tell me who the dumb*** was that started this fire at Belmont Park and caused two horses to be killed.

          • It sounds as though this Harry does not believe NYRA or anyone of their numerous enforcers are capable of burning any number of horses in a fire.In my opinion this is how NYRA maintains its power amongst horsemen.Fear,intimidation and the threat of not being able to earn a living in New York or elsewhere. It’s called the “Art of the Blacklist”

        • Spoken like a true apologist, just oozing with compassion for one of their “beloved athletes” they love like a family member. Keep talking.

        • Ya, because a 40ft round pen on the backside of a track is so idyllic? Because there’s so much lush grass for them to graze for the half hour they are put there before they have to switch horses? And because it’s so good for their already sore joints to try to run and buck and play then do a screeching halt or a rollback because they hit the other side of that 40ft round pen??
          I can guarantee you there’s not many round pens to begin with, and they aren’t a supersized 80 or 100 footer, you nimrod.
          But you do you and rationalize that a small round pen, with sand or dirt and maybe some small scrubby grass is so awesome.

      • Marie, the racing folks and apologists think horses who have Jolly Balls and get peppermints are treated like “kings”. And now a little time in a ROUND PEN?!? – they’re really outdoing themselves with that “royal treatment”!

    • Are you kidding?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is ABUSING animals so your lazy asses can get some money. Go out and get a REAL job. NY has become the worst offender and biggest killing factory!!!!!!!

    • Blah blah. Without horse racing people would get other jobs, maybe even useful jobs. That’s the absolute dumbest of the oft quoted excuses. Economies evolve.

    • Yes, fires happen and possibly even where precautions are in place. But confining horses to stalls and in the numbers that racetracks stall them is a recipe for disaster. The BEST prevention for this terrible tragedy is to not confine horses to stalls – but of course, that is impossible to do at tracks. So once again, racehorses’ lives are put at risk so humans can benefit from their slave labor (many people wouldn’t have jobs if horses were not used as disposal gambling tools, RL? – we can say the same for kill buyers and their families if equine slaughter was done away with).

      Heroics? There’s nothing heroic about trying to salvage one’s cash cows. Horseracing is a business. It’s about the money. And it’s the HORSES that MAKE the money. Of course they needed to get those (uninsured) money makers out of that barn.

      And what’s “treated well”? – stall isolation and confinement? – having limbs and lives risked in an admitted dangerous activity so some can have jobs and others be entertained or get their gambling fixes? – being bought and sold like some inanimate object? – and ALWAYS begging for a home (most often) before even reaching an equine’s prime age (if lucky enough to make it out of racing alive)? “Treated well”…like little Mountain Bear? – being made to labor for his abusers (racing owner/trainer) and suffering the effects of his “royal treatment” as evidenced by “severe chronic [gastric] ulceration” and “suppurative hepatitis”? I can’t even BEGIN to comprehend the miserable life that little bay gelding endured day in and day out. And horseracing’s reality is these poor horses are released from hellish lives only by their own deaths.

    • R.L. Don’t you get it??? No one, and I mean NO ONE, has the right to make money off the body or life of a horse or non-human animal! How utterly selfish! How unloving! Get another job, for heaven’s sake, that doesn’t involve exploitation of the life and comfort of an innocent being who never volunteered to go through what you people ( you call them heroic???) make them go through. Stop complementing yourselves! You goddamn make your living off their suffering! I swear, you apologists sound like Nazis! Making money off your enslaved victims!

    • Isn’t it awfully convenient and suspicious that one of the dead racehorses was a 9 y.o. stallion called American Sailor, who made more than $500,000 in purse earnings with a, most likely, equine insurance policy in place?
      Oh yes, that’s what I’m suggesting because there are no lows when it comes to you parasites.
      Another thing, horses should not be forced to die just so you can suck the life out of them to pick up a check.
      They neither consent to it or have a voice to defend themselves against the misery that you all bestow on them.
      There are other jobs that don’t involve the daily abusive business practices that you have been partaking in for 15 years.
      I grew up in this business, I owned and trained for years and I had to completely restructure my life when I left because I finally came to realize just how horrific this business is and I could no longer justify the horror show going on all around me not to mention the corruption.
      It took me years to go forward with another profession so anybody can do it.

      • You could say this was Trainer Potts initiation.If he keeps his mouth shut he’ll be allowed to stay at NYRA. If he can’t keep his mouth shut he will be black listed and he will have to leave NYRA’s grounds

    • NO! R.L. ,It’s clear you haven’t seen it all. Well maybe you have,seen it all,but with blinders on ,because you fail to mention anything about the strong possibilities of a nefarious nature.It is an injustice to the horses and the good people who saved the lives of the other horses.You are practically stating that it was impossible,that their may have been foul play involving NYRA, Potts and his horses. If Potts wants to look at the bigger picture and still get his new allotment of a reduced number of stall space at NYRA,he will go about his busines as if nothing happened,accept the reduced amount of stalls that NYRA is willing to give him for the Belmont meet,send the rest to Monmouth or a local farm,ship in to race at Belmont,keep his mouth shut about the entire incident and move on.If he chooses to not keep his mouth shut,he better be prepared to get out of Dodge with his tail between his legs and say goodbye to ever,even thinking of racing at Belmont,Aqueduct or Saratoga,except by shipping in..Good luck Mr.Potts!This will be one of the most difficult decisions you’ll make in your life. Which ever road you choose,this choice will effect your life forever. When NYRA says find another home for most of your horses by a certain date before the Belmont meet begins, you do it on that day. Not the date the Belmont meet opens because other tracks from which the regulars are coming from are closing or need their stalls for their regulars.Let’s not forget Belmonts regulars are bigger than their regulars. In my opinion that’s just the way it goes.

  9. Have you ever been near a race horse? Do you know anything about John Henry? Where were you when a woman told her race horse she loved her and the horse responded proudly and that day won?
    If your house catches fire and you were hurt should I blame the government or your faulty wiring?
    I am an animal advocate and knowing the human animal it is better to have a place in our lives than not. Notice anything happening to the animals in the wilderness much? We can love them but they are all disappearing. Save the race horse from his fun so he can become someone’s dinner….yeah; no. A chance to do what horses do as an Olympian not so bad! I even heard someone wants to come back as one in their next life.
    To those whom have lost their partners in racing…if there is an afterlife…they’ll be ready to race on the other side.

    • D H: Just take responsibility for the fact that racehorses are forced to endure unnatural treatment that also involves very inhumane treatment. Have you ever been whipped to the point of having broken bones in your feet, such as when horses get broken sesamoids? That is just one example of the many things that are so cruel about horseracing. Since you are incapable of feeling the horse’s pain, you delude yourself, D H.

    • DH, Thanks for your delusional post. Your exploitation of the life of an animal has brought you to that place. I guess it’s too hard to face up to what you do to your prisoners. Good luck. Hope one day you can face yourself.

    • Your comment makes no sense. What does the government have to do with anything? If my house burns down and my children die because I locked them in the closet I’m guilty of a crime.

      • The government has all to do with this game, They are at the top of this pile of shit. I’m sure you’ve seen enough mafia movies that cash skimmed,must be kicked up to the top.This my friend is a cash operation and guess who is New York States biggest money earner.If you guessed NYRA, give the man a teddy bear.

        • Ahhhh yes Sophie….if only I could sit down with you,as I know first hand all too well of ny ins and outs,just trust me on this one 😉. I could write a book…and probably will someday.

          • We could also write a book of our experiences in all facets of the industry! It most likely would be multi-volume series.

          • I know,I know.It sounds as though I know several in your position.Those that butted heads with this power,called NYRA. They always seem to come out on top.That’s only because of their incestuous,corrupt,conflicts of interest with the state gov.

    • Save the racehorse from his “fun”? Seriously?! You honestly think horses enjoy being made to run at breakneck speed by a diminutive safest perched on their back whipping them at every stride? To be forced to race in spite of illness and injury? (And if you don’t believe that, look how many horses are scratched by vets – if they hadn’t been, they would have been on that track). Do you think they find it “fun” to be locked in a stall 23 hours a day without being able to socialize with their own kind? Do you think they find it fun to wear stud chains and tongue ties? Do you think they find it fun to be kicked in the belly, punched in the head, and otherwise brutalized when they act in ways their “loving connections” don’t like in an attempt to communicate they are fearful or in pain? Do you think they find it fun when their spines or limbs snap from a catastrophic accident? Do you think they find colic, Pleuropneumonia, laminitis, and gastric ulcers “fun”? And do you think they are having “fun” crowded into a stock trailer on the way to the slaughterhouse? Do you think they are having “fun” when they are shot, hung, and butchered, often while still alive and conscious?
      These horses deserve so much better than the “fun” they get to enjoy while being exploited for entertainment and profit.

  10. DH, FYI, the contributors on this site are VERY familiar with horseracing,the business, and all around facets. We have horsebook authors,former trainers, owners,etc. Who know all about life on and behind the track. If you need any history of racehorses past and present just ask. John Henry lived to a ripe old age at KPH. He used to bite everyone of his choosing. He is buried whole at KHP and I have laid flowers on his resting place.Just inquire here and one of us will respond to your query.

  11. D H what does knowing anything about John Henry (\Kelso, Forego or Funny Cide, et el, for that matter) have to do with horses burning to death in a barn fire at the track or the way these horses die from injuries and in slaughterhouses on a daily basis ??
    As for your assertion that “..knowing the human animal it is better to have a place in our lives than not”. That is, to say the least, a hugely debatable statement!!!
    As for someone wanting to “come back” as a race horse tells me that individual knows NOTHING about horses, period.
    All too often human arrogance, ignorance and inconsistency rule supreme when it comes to how animals are judged and treated…

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