Wednesday, I, Nicole, and a host of smart, dedicated, and passionate HW volunteers went to the NYS Capitol in Albany for a press conference and lobby day on Governor Hochul’s proposed $455M loan to the New York Racing Association to rebuild Belmont Park. (The text of my remarks at the PC are below; part of the media coverage here.) Immediately following the PC, Nicole led our activists over to the governor’s office to present a mock trophy to Ms. Hochul for intending to build what would become the deadliest racetrack in America. Then it was off to 72 key legislative offices for an intense, productive afternoon of lobbying. Thank you to all who made this event a great success. (Video of the day can be found on our social-media platforms.)

Thank you, and good morning. As you’ve already heard, extending more corporate welfare to the New York Racing Association makes absolutely no sense financially. Horseracing is an archaic, long-in-decline gambling business that is simply unable to compete with the lottery, casinos, and now, mobile sports betting. But beyond cheating schoolchildren out of tens of millions in desperately-needed education dollars each year, there is a real cost to all of this in lives – specifically, the lives of the so-called equine athletes this industry so deceptively celebrates.

Horseracing Wrongs is a national nonprofit known for, among other things, compiling and reporting unprecedented data on U.S. horseracing. In the most recent five-year period, 2018-2022, the combined death toll at Aqueduct and Belmont – which is precisely what the New Belmont would comprise – is 274, a figure that would rank first in the nation in horses killed. That is what Governor Hochul is proposing to build – the deadliest racetrack in America.

Viewed another way, if NYRA gets this money and builds this track, using the historical average of 61 dead annually at Aqueduct/Belmont, we can reasonably expect another 1,200 or so horses to perish at the New Belmont Park over the term of the loan. That’s another 1,200 beautiful, intelligent, sensitive creatures who will be killed, for nothing more than $2 bets, and by an industry that is being propped up by taxpayers. And this doesn’t even begin to account for the myriad more who will be raced in NY and who, once the industry is done exploiting them, will land in equine hell – the slaughterhouse. In short, we are asking the legislature to please reject this latest money grab by NYRA and by doing so, protect and save the lives of countless horses. Thank you.

If there were any lingering questions about the utter fatuousness of the New York Racing Association’s (NYRA) justification for its latest welfare grab – a $455 million loan from the state to rebuild Belmont Park, with said loan to be repaid through the massive subsidization NYRA already receives – then a new New York Focus interview with the firm that authored the “study” NYRA has been citing (but until this week had refused to release in its entirety) is a must read.

Please read the full interview, as it’s not only worth it (not to mention entertaining), but it helps support (increasingly rare) good journalism. My personal favorite is an exchange on a “New Belmont” bringing the Breeders’ Cup (BC) back to NY. NYRA giddily talks of a spectator bump with the BC. Hardly mentioned, of course, is the BC rotates among several states, meaning it may only be at Belmont twice a decade

“NYF: You included the 120,000 per year projection in your study and said the Breeders’ Cup could bring those fans. Is that 120,000 a year number accurate if the Breeders’ Cup will only come twice a decade?

“SB: We did the projections of the Breeders’ Cup, Sam, to show what the full potential of a modernized facility at Belmont would look like. And again remember, these are projections of attendance. These are economic models, which are industry standard.”


“In case you haven’t heard, Gov. Kathy Hochul is intent on dumping more taxpayer money into a ‘burn pit’ industry whose glory days are long gone.” And so begins an excellent board editorial from the New York Post today. Full piece, and my highlights:

“Earlier this month, New York Focus revealed that Hochul’s proposed budget would sink nearly a half billion dollars in public money into the state’s long-declining horse-racing industry to finance renovations at Belmont Park race track on Long Island.

“Hochul says taxpayers would be reimbursed in full, plus interest, in 20 years. Huh? The racing industry has been losing tens of millions over the last decade. Yet somehow, Hochul’s crystal ball sees a renaissance coming. In fact, that forecast is a self-serving NYRA-commissioned study that she won’t release.”

And the most recent New York Focus article: “Hochul Projects Horse Racing Renaissance, Declines to Share Evidence.”

The heat is on.

The New York Racing Association (NYRA) is currently attempting to secure a state loan of $455 million to rebuild Belmont Park. But get this: The loan would be repaid through the millions – as in, 130 annually – NYRA already receives in subsidies. Talk about a sweetheart of a deal. With that in mind, I thought it might be instructive for New Yorkers to know what, exactly, this corporate welfare is getting them.

Over the 8-year period 2014-2021, the 10 deadliest tracks in America were as follows:

Charles Town: 460
Gulfstream: 411
Parx: 353
Belmont: 322
Turf: 285
Penn: 263
Santa Anita: 246
Laurel: 243
Remington: 236
Mountaineer: 218

As you can see, Belmont, as presently constituted, ranks fourth. But, as the new Belmont would absorb all of Aqueduct’s racing, we should add Aqueduct’s 114 deaths over this period to get a clearer, more accurate picture of where this new combined track would stand. 322 + 114 = 436, or behind only Charles Town. Over the past five years (’17-’21), however, Belmont/Aqueduct has hosted 275 kills; CT, 262. In short, recent history says the new Belmont Park would be the deadliest racetrack in America.

And here’s another way of looking at the killing: In the 14-year period 2009-2022, 854 horses died at Belmont/Aqueduct – an average of 61 per year. This means we can reasonably expect another 1,800 or so horses to perish at new Belmont over the life of that aforementioned loan (30 years). Hundreds and hundreds more intelligent, beautiful beings felled for $2 bets. And all of it subsidized by New York taxpayers.