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.

Last Wednesday, Ray Paulick penned an opinion piece in his eponymous Paulick Report entitled “Horse Racing At The Crossroads: Reform Or Die.” Sounding the alarm (again), Paulick rightly points out that the media is swarming and not letting go.

“We’ve written before about how society has changed, that a public opinion survey in 2018 made animal welfare the No. 1 issue that Americans care the most about. That was before the glare from the mainstream media spotlight on racing fatalities at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif., made virtually everyone in this country aware that hundreds of Thoroughbreds are dying each year on American racetracks.”

Fairly straightforward to this point. But then Paulick can’t help but get prickly about the siege in which his beloved “sport” currently finds itself: “The media smells blood, and I’m sure you’ve heard the expression that ‘if it bleeds, it leads.’ The piling on is unfair, with graphic and often misleading articles and video segments on horse racing fatalities on everything from Voice of America and National Public Radio to CNN, Fox News and HuffPost.com (which referred to Santa Anita as ‘horse hell’). Who ever said life was fair?”

“Unfair,” Mr. Paulick? How dare you talk of inequity toward an industry that has been allowed to exploit and abuse animals for 150 years with, for the vast majority of that time, nary a peep from the mainstream media. “Graphic,” Mr. Paulick? Not hardly enough: This should be in newspapers coast to coast. “Misleading,” Mr. Paulick? Misleading is only mentioning the “hundreds [and actually it’s well over 2,000] of Thoroughbreds dying” on-track while conveniently omitting the hundreds dying back in their stalls or the multiple thousands being strung up and slashed every year.

The Ray Paulicks of the racing world are, in many ways, our greatest enemies – wolves in sheep’s clothing. Sounding intelligent, caring, and thoughtful, their opinions and ideas can, at least to the lay public, be utterly persuasive – you know, all Racing needs is a good housecleaning, a return to its roots, the “Horseracing Integrity Act.” And if they get what they want – and to their everlasting shame – countless more horses will suffer and die for it.

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.