Testimony on Belmont Park Proposal

Ahead of an Economic Development hearing in the NYS Legislature today, I submitted the following written testimony on the Belmont Park proposal:

To call the proposed $455 million loan to the New York Racing Association (NYRA) to rebuild Belmont Park a boondoggle would be understating it. First, this massive loan would be repaid through the millions in annual subsidies NYRA is already being gifted. (Over the past decade, NYRA has received well over a billion dollars in state support.) Second, NYRA’s current franchise agreement – on which, by the way, they pay zero in annual fees – expires in ten years. That, coupled with horseracing’s steady decline nationally – the industry has suffered a net loss of 39 tracks since 2000; all relevant metrics (handle, “foal crop,” races, etc.) are significantly down – makes it perfectly reasonable to ask, will NYRA even exist in 30 years, especially considering Belmont’s attendance has plummeted 87% since 1978? If not, what becomes of the debt?

More important to us at Horseracing Wrongs, however, is the cost of all this in lives. In the 14-year period 2009-2022, 854 horses died at Belmont/Aqueduct (the proposal has Belmont absorbing all of Aqueduct’s current racing) – an average of 61 kills per year. This means we can reasonably expect another 1,800 or so horses to perish at the new Belmont over the life of this loan (30 years). Hundreds and hundreds more beautiful, intelligent, sensitive beings sacrificed for $2 bets. And this says nothing of the likely thousands more who will be shipped to slaughter upon “retirement.”

Beyond – or more accurately, prior to – death, there is the everyday track abuse: The typical racehorse is torn from his mother as a mere babe, thrust into intensive training at 18 months – long before his body is fully mature – and first raced at two, the rough equivalent of a first-grader. From there, the incessant grinding – again, on an unformed skeleton – begins, because if he’s not racing, he’s not earning. He is confined (alone, in a tiny 12×12 stall for over 23 hours a day), commodified (lip tattoos, auctions, “claiming races”), controlled (cribbing collars, lip chains, tongue ties, eye blinders, mouth bits), and cowed (whips). Bought and sold multiple times over the course of his “career,” he lives a stressful, tenuous existence that in and of itself causes pain: over 90% of active racehorses suffer from chronic ulcers.

In short, at its core, horseracing is animal exploitation, animal cruelty, and animal killing. And it is high time that we, the taxpayers, stop subsidizing it. Please reject this latest money grab by NYRA. Say no to the loan, and yes to compassion. Thank you.

Patrick Battuello
President, Horseracing Wrongs

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  1. attention nystate economic development hearing this morning urgent

    i am writing against your approval of $455 million tax payer dollars to ny racing sites. the horses are dying on those racing sites and they represent a horrific scene of animal abuse. most of the horse end up dead. few make it out alive. it is a horrible slaughterhouse and no taxpayer dollars should go to this abuse any longer. we need surcease of this taxpayer funding of animal abuse to horses at racetracks. this comment is for the public record. please receipt. jean publiee jeanpublic1@gmail.com

  2. Horseracing is ANIMAL CRUELTY. This industry could not exist without CRUELTY TO THE HORSES. Animal cruelty should be punished. Animal cruelty should NOT be rewarded with government subsidies and government-directed benefits including tax write-offs and tax exemptions.
    The cruelty to the horses, the racketeering, the illegal doping of horses, the constant medicating of the horses to keep them running and every kind of corruption and cruelty to horses in the horse racing industry, which, of course, includes the New York Racing Association, should be punished, not rewarded or subsidized in any way. All subsidies to horseracing in New York State should be STOPPED. The Video Lottery Terminal payments and all of the other deals between the NYRA and New York State should be ENDED by the LEGISLATIVE branch of government in New York State. It’s obvious that the NYRA wants more, more, more!
    The New York Racing Association doesn’t deserve more money in the form of government handouts; instead, they deserve judicial accountability for Animal Cruelty and for violating Animal Welfare codes of conduct.
    The CORPORATE WELFARE to the NYRA must be stopped! Any type of loan to the NYRA is ridiculously INAPPROPRIATE and must be stopped before it starts. The egregious cruelty to horses exploited for racing, Pari-mutuel wagering and killing of horses as an inherent part of racing is inexcusable.
    Many of the Thoroughbred horses exploited for racing are afflicted with abnormal health conditions such as Degenerative Joint Disease and other bone diseases. The starting of young and underdeveloped colts and fillies for carrying the weight of a saddle and a rider AND FORCED TO RUN AT A FULL GALLOP is a recipe for disaster. This disaster happens over and over again while the industry press puts a spin, a public relations spin, on racing to attempt to cover up the inherent cruelty to the horses. THIS PUBLIC RELATIONS SPIN DECEIVES MANY PEOPLE. This inhumane treatment of horses must be stopped and punished! Stop the insane cruelty to the horses and punish these horrific acts of cruelty and mistreatment of horses.

    • Well said! Say no to loans, no to organized crime, no to the cheaters and animal abusers, no to the drug dealers, drug addicts, no to the human scum that such an enterprise as horse gambling attracts. Yes to education, yes to mental health improvement, yes to proper law enforcement and yes to the horses themselves.

  3. Say no to loans supporting racehorse cruelties, yes to compassion, yes to educating ppl on animal abuse, yes to enforcing laws that protect the voiceless.

  4. Thank you. I have called my state assemblyman and senator (NYS) as well as the Governor. Shared your post here to my page.

    • Thank you so much, Martha, for taking action. It’s so important to contact our elected officials and pressure them to do the right thing for the animals.

  5. 455 million to prop up a dying industry? Rather, it should go to education, after school programs, school labs, housing, etc! Hurts to think, any govt. would give priority to the horse-race game!

  6. So powerfully expressed. You deliver a compassionate, yet concise and compelling message. One that simply cannot be refuted! Thank you, Patrick! The animals need so many more people like you! Never give up! Never! Never! Never give up!

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