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.