On his HorseRaceInsider site, John Pricci recently shared an email he received from a racing-related friend in Saratoga Springs, home, of course, to Saratoga Race Course:

“Horses are dying. We all should be uncomfortable about that. Thoroughbred racing is worth saving and the game that you and I grew up loving was noble. But if we don’t face this thing down… So far, those I have talked to seem not to be willing to face this.

“This past Derby Day, approximately 50 protestors [that was Horseracing Wrongs, by the way] were on hand at the Oklahoma Training Track, just down from the East Avenue entrance. They later moved to the front of the National Museum of Racing. The number of protesters at the gate, and at the Museum, grows annually.

“I have been struck in recent months about when I am stopped by someone when it comes to racing and this issue. It is in church, the supermarket check-out line, or the deli newsroom where I get my papers each morning. My spouse is president of a charity at a Roman Catholic Church and is the youngest member of this organization of caring older people. After two recent monthly meetings the question asked of me was ‘what about those horse deaths at Saratoga [this year]?’ These people barely know where Saratoga Race Course is located. Okay? But they are getting the message and forming an opinion.

“This game has got to step back and take a deep breath and make some truly hard decisions about where it wants to go. Because if government makes that decision as a result of popular pressure [animal abuse is an automatic vote-getter], it is not going to be pretty.

“Hallowed Saratoga is NOT immune to this and most of our civic leaders don’t get that. For a far less harmful situation than horse deaths — opposition to gambling — New York outlawed thoroughbred racing in 1911 and 1912.

“I truly love [the game] and have first-hand knowledge of what it can be. I honestly think we are in crisis and are unwilling to confront that. I hope I am wrong.”

Pricci concludes: “Can stakeholders doubt there’s a crisis when residents of the town that is home to one of ‘America’s Top 10 Sporting Venues – where horse racing has been part of the fabric for over a century and a half – begins to question why so many horses are dying?”

Running scared – even in sacred Saratoga. Which brings to mind one of my favorite historical lines. It comes from an ever-so-brief note from President Lincoln to General Grant in the waning days of the Civil War: “General Sheridan says ‘If the thing is pressed I think that Lee will surrender.’ Let the thing be pressed.”

Indeed, activists and all caring people nationwide, let the thing be pressed.

Santa Anita Petition
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Contact Your Elected Officials
Get Involved – Protests and Events

As I recently wrote, there is no better catalyst for moral progress than protest. And while we are understandably proud of the big numbers we’ve been able to mobilize at Santa Anita, Saratoga, and Belmont, make no mistake even a handful of people standing strong and resolute for the horses is a powerful statement – and makes a difference. Today, I’d like to express my deep gratitude to Animal Rights Rochester for carrying our banner at Finger Lakes Racetrack in western NY, and for letting that track and the surrounding community know that animal abuse/killing for lousy $2 bets will no longer be abided in 21st Century America. Thank you.

From the office of Senator Dianne Feinstein (California) on the killing of Mongolian Groom in a Breeders’ Cup race at Santa Anita Saturday:

“It breaks my heart to hear that another horse died because of injuries sustained during the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita Racetrack. This year, 37 horses have died at Santa Anita, seven of those since racing resumed in September. That’s simply unacceptable.

“This problem is not unique to Santa Anita. More than 3,000 horses have died at California racetracks in the past two decades, and thousands more at racetracks throughout the country. Unfortunately, most states lack sufficient reporting requirements, so we may never know the exact numbers of horses that die nation-wide as part of the horse racing industry. This is a gap that should be closed.

“Before the Breeders’ Cup, I wrote to the California Horse Racing Board that this weekend would be a critical test for the future of horse racing. Despite increased scrutiny and additional measures that have been put in place, the horse racing industry was unable to make it through a single weekend without a critical injury and euthanized horse.

“In the past, I’ve called for horse racing to be suspended at Santa Anita until it could ensure the safety of horses would be protected. With continued racetrack deaths, it’s clear that not enough has changed, so I renew that call.

“I will work with Governor Newsom to look at all options to protect racehorses and increase transparency at racetracks. If the horse racing industry is unwilling to treat these magnificent creatures humanely, it has no business operating in the United States.”

I for one am grateful for the senator’s statement, but let’s keep the pressure on. Please share your approval with Senator Feinstein, but state clearly and unequivocally that horseracing cannot be fixed or reformed – that horseracing must end. And for that, we need her help. (I believe phone and email are best.)

Senator Dianne Feinstein
United States Senate
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

phone: (202) 224-3841
email form