Follows is the letter I sent to Mechanicville City School District officials this morning…

Good afternoon. By way of introduction, my name is Patrick Battuello and I am the founder and president of Horseracing Wrongs. I am writing to respectfully ask that you rescind your invitation to racehorse trainer Chad Brown to speak at Mechanicville High’s graduation Saturday. And here’s why:

Through our unprecedented FOIA reporting, Horseracing Wrongs has documented – with names, dates, locations – over 5,000 confirmed kills on U.S. tracks just since 2014. Our research indicates that over 2,000 horses are killed racing or training across America every year. Over 2,000. Imagine that.

In addition, hundreds more die back in their stalls from things like colic, laminitis, or are simply “found dead in the morning.” And in perhaps the worst of it, the vast majority of spent or simply no-longer-wanted racehorses are brutally and violently bled-out and butchered in Canadian and Mexican slaughterhouses – some 12,000-15,000 Thoroughbreds alone each year. In short, and written without a hint of hyperbole, the U.S. horseracing industry is engaged in wholesale carnage. Carnage.

Obviously, the “renowned” (your word) Brown is not immune. In New York alone (Mr. Brown plies his craft in multiple states), and at but two tracks at that, he has 16 kills on his record since 2009, with the most recent coming only this month at Saratoga:

Hard To Explain, killed at Belmont, 9/16/09
Tony Manero, killed at Belmont, 10/9/09
Bluember, killed at Saratoga, 8/22/12
Poppo, killed at Belmont, 10/26/13
Ludicrous, killed at Saratoga, 8/23/14
Jay Bird, killed at Saratoga, 5/5/15
Helwan, killed at Belmont, 6/6/15
Defined, killed at Saratoga, 6/30/15
Innovation Economy, killed at Saratoga, 8/1/15
Hadeed Fi Hadeed, killed at Saratoga, 5/30/16
Jonrah, killed at Saratoga, 8/3/16
Puissant, killed at Belmont, 5/7/17
Lakalas, killed at Saratoga, 5/28/17
Wanztbwicked, killed at Saratoga, 7/22/17
Business Expense, killed at Saratoga, 9/13/18
Investment Analyst, killed at Saratoga, 6/7/19

As I’m sure you are aware, largely because of the just-concluded Santa Anita meet, the cruelty of the racing industry and, more specifically, death at the track is a hot-button issue, with virtually every national media outlet covering it. (In fact, I was recently featured on a segment of HBO’s “Real Sports” and, just this week, a CNN expose.)

Clearly, it is becoming increasingly difficult for this industry to find cover under the banner of sport. Truth is, like the dead or dying Ringling Bros., SeaWorld, and greyhound racing, horseracing is but exploitation of a weaker species. It is ugly and mean and cruel, and Mr. Brown is very much a part of that. Is this the kind of person you want addressing young, impressionable minds? Does the Mechanicville School District really want to throw in its lot with a seedy gambling industry that grinds up and spits out thousands of sentient beings annually? Or would it rather project the higher ethics of mercy and compassion? If the last, then there is only one choice to be had: Cancel Chad Brown’s invitation.

Patrick Battuello
Founder/President, Horseracing Wrongs, a 501(c)(3) organization

I respect hard work, always have. Much of this appreciation for industry stems from my childhood and the indelible influence of my grandfathers. Both arrived at Ellis Island as boys – not knowing a stitch of English and with but an elementary-school education. They took what jobs they could in order to survive and, eventually, advance. They were and remain my role models and heroes.

Similarly, I respect the ethic of the racing industry’s backstretch community. They rise early, quit late – and mostly for modest (if we’re being charitable) pay. That said, this campaign – our campaign – to end horseracing precludes any and all discussion of “economic impact.” More to the point, in considering whether the abuse and killing of horses should continue, the jobs of free, autonomous human beings – who can and will find other employment; for perspective, see any one of the myriad industries that have come and gone in our nation’s history – are, or at least should be, irrelevant. And, yes, I would feel the same if it were my immigrant grandfathers working those stables.

While I can certainly appreciate the usefulness, if not downright necessity, of social media, personally I am loath to engage, preferring instead to say what I have to say here and through more traditional media platforms. Fortunately, we at HW have a wonderful group of volunteers fighting the Facebook and Twitter wars – promulgating truth, exposing lies, and, because it comes with the territory, addressing idiocy. Still, every once in a while, I myself feel compelled to deal with the last, though it almost always leaves my distaste for the medium reconfirmed.

Two years ago, a particularly smug apologist took to Facebook with the inane question, “What is your plan for the 100,000 horses who would be out of work should you get what you want (an end to horseracing)?” Vegans, of course, are quite familiar with this tactic – you know, “if the world goes vegan, what will happen to…?” Like I said, stupid. What I didn’t like and what prompted me to respond, however, was her assertion that upon polling some of our Saratoga protesters, all she heard was “crickets.” So, breaking my self-imposed rule, I engaged:

All was good until the “sterilize to extinction” part. Although I pride myself on writing as clearly and succinctly as possible, here I came up a bit short. In my defense, it was at the end of a long day and I was in no mood for vacuity wrapped in the guise of cleverness. What I meant, and what most reasonable people have no difficulty seeing, is that we are against the breeding of horses for racing – using (the decidedly racing terms) Thoroughbreds, Quarterhorses, and Standardbreds as a substitute for racehorses in general. Again (and of course), we do not want to kill off all horses. We are out to end horseracing; by extension, and as I wrote two years ago, when that last track closes, no more breeding racehorses. Clear? I should hope so.