In June, Dr. Kraig Kulikowski, renowned equine veterinarian, testified (along with me and several others) before two NYS Senate committees. Highlights and video follow:

A two-year-old horse is equivalent to a six-year-old human. A three-year-old horse is equivalent to a nine-year-old human. Yet, the biggest races…are for three-year-olds. They still have their baby teeth. Their bones are not mature. Their brains are not mature. I can just tell you that as a two and a three-year-old, all their body parts are immature at that point and that they’re still developing.

These juveniles are herded out to the racetrack for less than 30 minutes of exercise per day. Then, these juveniles spend the rest of the day standing in a 12-foot by 12-foot stall. A 12-by-12 stall for a thousand-pound horse is equivalent to a four-foot by four-foot closet for a one-hundred-pound child. Most of these juveniles never see pasture or a moment of playtime once they start their racing career. What impact would twenty-three and one-half hours of standing in a closet have on the bone strength of a child? What impact would twenty-three and one-half hours of standing in a closet have on the mental health of a child?

The juvenile racehorse often comes off the track with stomach ulcers from the stress of their work and environment. These juvenile racehorses also leave the track with tendon and ligament injuries which severely impact their comfort… These juvenile racehorses often have evidence of osteoarthritis, even at the ripe old age of four years old. Some of the arthritis is from straight wear and tear. The rest of the arthritis is from chronic repetitive and excessive joint injections with corticosteroids. These juvenile racehorses also often have been mentally stressed to the point where many boarding facilities do not accept thoroughbred as boarders because they are considered dangerous or wild.

Twenty years ago…I learned that two and three-year-old horses are juveniles and should not be stunted for greed. I learned I wanted to help horses stay sound and healthy throughout their entire life, not just until the next race. I actually learned to be a good equine veterinarian. I could not be a racetrack veterinarian.

H. James Bond, $43 million, multiple-graded-stakes-winning trainer, says in a recent Spectrum interview (in which I also appeared) that racehorses die everywhere – i.e., it’s not, as the reformers would have us believe, an “American problem”:

“It’s worldwide…it’s bad. Period.”

Then this: In the 8th at Laurel Saturday, the Equibase writer says Belle Saison “sat down in the gate pre-race, raced in range for about three furlongs, dropped back, was pulled up mid turn and vanned off.”

“Sat down” before eventually being “vanned off” for an undisclosed injury. Perhaps the 3-year-old Belle was trying to tell her exploiters something? But there’s more. Her three most recent times under the whip, all at Laurel:

Jul 13, last of 10
Jun 23, 9th of 10
Jun 2, last of 8

Finally, those same exploiters – trainer Carlos Mancilla, owner Michael Scheffres – had her “For Sale” at $5,000 prior to Saturday’s race. But Racing is loaded with “good people” who care, right? Vile.

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.

Respectfully,
Patrick Battuello
Founder/President, Horseracing Wrongs, a 501(c)(3) organization
518-410-6192
patrick@horseracingwrongs.com
horseracingwrongs.com

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.