An updated list of some of the more damning (and thus, beneficial) statements from those within horseracing:

Various direct quotes from those within and around the racing industry…

“Those efforts [reforms] seem to be paying off as the breakdown rate, which soared earlier this year at Santa Anita, has returned to more normal numbers [italics added].” – Bill Finley, racing writer (Harness Racing Update, 12/6/19)

“The horseracing industry runs on a pack of lies, a bunch of swindles, hidden information, and many corrupt and illegal activities for the love of money, not for love of the horse.” – Mark Berner, racing writer/handicapper (HorseRaceInsider, 12/3/19)

“I will no longer support a fractured industry of disparate alphabet organizations now guided by greed. You have killed the game for me.” – Mark Berner, racing writer/handicapper (HorseRaceInsider, 12/3/19)

“It does not matter if you knew Mongolian Groom. I did not. But I did know horses now buried in infields of racetracks and in Claire Court at Saratoga Race Course. I walked shedrows and I pet them on their heads. Now they are dead. It has happened a thousand times before and will again.” – Mark Berner, racing writer/handicapper (HorseRaceInsider, 12/3/19)

“It happened slowly over the past few years as I wrote about rescue, slaughter and drugs. What put me off most is the great number of industry people who favor the latter two.” – Mark Berner, racing writer/handicapper (HorseRaceInsider, 12/3/19)

“The game is rigged at every level, with rampant cheating its finest art form.” – Mark Berner, racing writer/handicapper (HorseRaceInsider, 12/3/19)

“I am done supporting a sport that kills its stars.” – Mark Berner, racing writer/handicapper (HorseRaceInsider, 12/3/19)

“Trust me, there are horses I’ve won on that if I hadn’t used the whip, I wouldn’t have finished in the top three.” – Joe Talamo, prominent jockey (The San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/17/19)

“Is it possible to reduce the number of racehorse deaths? It is, and I believe that horse racing is already on a path to making it so. But some death is inevitable.” – Peter Fornatale, host of prominent horseplayer podcast (San Francisco Chronicle, 11/15/19)

“I’ve enjoyed it and I’ve done for it for 30 some years, but it’s reached a point where I’d like my people and me to be in the business as full-time professionals. So the idea is to buy a horse after a start or two, which we have been doing, develop them, and then either sell half of them or all of them for a profit. … I’ve now told people up front that going forward if you want to participate in these partnerships with me that our goal is to sell them and make money. … That’s the bottom line.” – Barry Irwin, prominent owner/breeder (BloodHorse, 11/13/19)

“Talk Veuve to Me still has a lot of racing in her, but we had some fun with her, made some money, and it was time to sell her so we can do it again with another horse.” – Barry Irwin, prominent owner/breeder (BloodHorse, 11/13/19)

“Part of the problem in horse racing is, we have commoditized horses, and when you commoditize horses, you treat them like livestock because they have a value. As one trainer told me, ‘I don’t like to leave any money on the table.’ But the other side of that is not good, because that means you want to get the last pound of flesh out of that particular animal.” – Dr. Rick Arthur, equine medical director, California Horse Racing Board (Town & Country, 10/27/19)

“The status quo is not good enough…horse safety…must be our number one priority, even before winning.” (admitting, of course, that heretofore “horse safety” wasn’t their number one priority) – Dr. Rick Arthur, equine medical director, California Horse Racing Board (International Conference of Horseracing Authorities, 10/7/19)

“Worldwide, that [fatalities] is a very large number of horses. Many of you in this room, and this isn’t a criticism, are a step away from the flesh and blood of these fatalities. I’ve been there. Many of these fatalities are ugly, very ugly.” – Dr. Rick Arthur, equine medical director, California Horse Racing Board (International Conference of Horseracing Authorities, 10/7/19)

“The result [of claiming races] is a culture where horses tend to be treated as commodities…the U.S. racing business model amplifies that.” – Dr. Rick Arthur, equine medical director, California Horse Racing Board (International Conference of Horseracing Authorities, 10/7/19)

“[During Santa Anita] the racing press understood that there is a normal fatality rate in horseracing; the non-racing press and public did not.” – Dr. Rick Arthur, equine medical director, California Horse Racing Board (International Conference of Horseracing Authorities, 10/7/19)

“There are those who argue that whipping doesn’t hurt horses, but that’s nonsense, and we all know that. Whips are noxious stimuli; they hurt, that’s why they’re used. Run fast or I’ll hit you again.” – Dr. Rick Arthur, equine medical director, California Horse Racing Board (International Conference of Horseracing Authorities, 10/7/19)

“[The Jockey Club] will not support a slaughter-free industry because it will cost $120 million per year to fund the care of the 20,000+ horses bred each year.” – Mark Berner, racing writer/handicapper (HorseRaceInsider, 8/22/19)

“These aren’t pets. These are machines. People spend a lot of money on these horses to win.” – Synthia Campos, bettor at Santa Anita Park (Yahoo Sports, 6/16/19)

“A lot of people who otherwise don’t pay any attention to this sport are paying attention to its most horrific aspect. And they are asking for answers that don’t exist. The hard truth: Horse racing can’t stop these catastrophic injuries from happening. [F]atal injuries aren’t going away.” – Gentry Estes, sportswriter and racing apologist (Louisville Courier-Journal, 6/13/19)

“A couple of years ago, a friend from Georgia attended Keeneland for the first time. Her family enjoyed the experience. One thing bothered them, my friend told me. The whips. Why did the jockeys have to hit the horses with those whips? That might seem minor for those of us who grew up with the sport. It’s an accepted practice. We barely notice it. But in a society less Agrarian and more urban, using a whip to hit a defenseless animal stands out. People might not be able to see the drugs, or what goes on in the barns, but they can sure see those whips.” – John Clay, sports columnist and racing apologist (Lexington Herald Leader, 6/11/19)

“Covering this game, you’d think you’d get desensitized to the breakdowns over time. It’s a reality of the business, I know. But if I’m being entirely honest, I think it’s getting harder to deal with each time. It’s just crushing.” – Jeremy Balan, writer BloodHorse, after yet another kill at Santa Anita Park, February 2019

“A condylar fracture is a disease of speed. A fracture to the left lateral forelimb is most common in racehorses as they turn the track on a weakened bone and increased loading on the lateral condyle.” – Dr. Robert Brusie, Palm Beach Equine Clinic, July 2018

“It’s hard to win an argument that should we spend this money [racino revenue] supporting the horseracing industry or should we pay our teachers and give them school supplies or fix roads and build hospitals…it’s kind of a no-brainer; we’re not going to win that argument.” – Ray Paulick, prominent racing writer, on the corporate welfare propping up much of the racing industry (Paulick Report, 4/13/18)

“Since the Thoroughbred industry has not significantly corrected this situation, the same percentages – 20% of all horses sent to slaughter from the US are Thoroughbreds – are safely assumed to be correct present day.” – Mark Berner, racing writer/handicapper (HorseRaceInsider, 3/28/18)

“A sport that once was the pastime of the billionaire class has devolved over time into a sport in which an overwhelming number of its athletes are slaughtered to become a portion of some animal’s dinner.” – Mark Berner, racing writer/handicapper (HorseRaceInsider, 3/28/18)

“We will continue to try to locate these New York thoroughbred horses; however, the fact that in two years we have only found about half of the horses speaks volumes about the challenges of just how many retired race horses there are out there.” – Ron Ochrym, acting executive director of the NYS Gaming Commission (The Daily Gazette, 8/29/17)

“We breed 20,000 a year, so if we don’t fund the exit plan, we can’t control the arteries from bleeding out.” – Stacie Clark, operations consultant for the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (The Daily Gazette, 8/29/17)

“Did I ever ask them to, no. Does it happen at every racetrack, yes.” – Stephanie Beattie, prominent trainer, on jockeys using electrical devices – “buzzers,” “batteries” – during morning workouts and in actual races (Paulick Report, 6/28/17)

“Almost everybody did [illegally drug their horses on raceday]. Ninety-five to 98%. It was a known practice. We wanted to win.” – Stephanie Beattie (Paulick Report, 6/28/17)

“Goodness knows in society there are problems that are unsolvable; this may be one of them.” – Cliff Goodrich, former president of Santa Anita, on Del Mar’s dead horses (The San Diego Union-Tribune, 8/25/16)

“The anti-slaughter policies, they’re worthless. The track policies are not going to do anything at all. I’m not an extremist, I just love horses, and I have seen what is truly happening to our racehorses. What is happening is what no one wants to talk about. I have sat down with the head of The Jockey Club; I have sat down with some of the biggest owners and trainers in the country. I start talking and I promise you, they start staring at the ground. They do not want to hear it.” – Maggi Moss, prominent owner (Paulick Report, August ’16)

“We accept the risk that comes with it…but that’s part of it. Where you have livestock, you have dead stock.” – John Wheeler, prominent trainer, after three horses were killed in a single day at a New Zealand racecourse (New Zealand Herald, 6/8/16)

“He [a Jockeys’ Guild official who argues that the new more-liberal California whip rule is not abuse] might want to bring that up with my 15-year-old daughter. Brought up in a family where both parents work in the racing industry, she has zero interest in the sport and when asked why said it is because she doesn’t like to watch the jockeys beating the horses.” – Bill Finley, prominent racing writer (Thoroughbred Daily News, 5/27/16)

“The public has changed. We’re using animals for entertainment here. And, all you have to do is look at the circus where they’ve eliminated elephants from the show…look at SeaWorld. We have to do everything possible for the safety and health of these horses because we’re using them for entertainment. That’s the bottom line.” – Ray Paulick, prominent racing writer (Paulick Report, 5/27/16)

“The worst part of it is, we never will really know how good he really was.” (not that he died) – Michael Matz, Barbaro’s trainer (AP, 5/9/16)

“We’ve all heard about the ‘bad step.’ It isn’t true.” – Dr. Lisa Hanelt, track vet, Finger Lakes (BloodHorse, 7/8/14)

“That horse raced and was pulled up with a broken leg, with his leg dangling, and had to be euthanized on the racetrack. It was crushing, because I felt like I had notified people [of a stress fracture in the horse]…and no one seemed to care. Nobody cared and that horse died because of it.” Dr. Kathryn Papp, track vet and racing apologist (NBC, 5/15/14)

“Everything that’s given to the horse is with the main goal in mind, which is having them run well, win races, pay well to the owners and to the trainers. And anything that they can give the horses – whether it be legal, illegal, even non-necessary substances – they will do…in an attempt to have a winner or improve their horse.” – Dr. Kathryn Papp, track vet and racing apologist (NBC, 5/15/14)

“Every day, I almost quit. Every day, I decide I don’t want to see 2-year-olds that haven’t even run yet be euthanized in a dirt pit at the back of the racetrack because somebody trained them too hard, medicated them too much, pushed them too far.” – Dr. Kathryn Papp, track vet and racing apologist (NBC, 5/15/14)

“Our industry is permeated with those who have no regard for the welfare of the horse. The horse becomes only a tool for fulfilling their own agendas of WIN AT ALL COSTS. Most trainers have little or no investment in the horses they train, whether it is financial or emotional. They will run red light after red light in pushing that horse until it fails and then they will call the owner and spin him a story. [T]hose trainers will tell the owner that the horse ‘just took a bad step’ and ‘that’s horse racing.'” – Bill Casner, prominent owner (Thoroughbred Daily News, March ’14)

“The economics of horse racing does not allow for that. Horse racing is on the decline. If a horse needed a year to heal up, they would go to the killers up in Canada or Mexico [slaughterhouses].” – Dr. Phillip Kapraun, Illinois vet, on his liberal use of the banned substance “snake venom” (The New York Times, 9/21/12)

“It’s getting much easier for me to run my horses out East so that I don’t get so personally attached to them. This is a business.” – Maggi Moss, prominent owner, on running “claimers” (The Iowan, July ’12)

“Everybody just wants a horse, and they want him now to race in 10 days. I want a horse today and I don’t want it tomorrow. I’m a businessman. If somebody takes my bad horses, it’s good. This is a game, and we have to know how to play.” – Juan Serey, trainer, on racinos/claiming races (The New York Times, 4/30/12)

“If horses don’t win, people just get rid of them.” – Maggi Moss, prominent owner, on racinos/claiming races (The New York Times, 4/30/12)

“It’s [the racino/claiming equation] strictly self-centered greed of not thinking about the horse but thinking about maybe I can get one more race out of him and get a piece of the game.” – Dr. Tom David, former chief vet, Louisiana Racing Commission (The New York Times, 4/30/12)

“If the public knew how many medications these horses were administered after entry time, I don’t think they would tolerate it.” – Dr. Rick Arthur, equine medical director, California Horse Racing Board (The New York Times, 4/30/12)

“It’s hard to watch these poor animals running for their lives for people who could really care less if they live.” – Dr. Margaret Ohlinger, track vet, Finger Lakes (The New York Times, 3/24/12)

“It’s hard to justify how many horses we go through. In humans you never see someone snap their leg off running in the Olympics. But you see it in horse racing.” – Dr. Rick Arthur, equine medical director, California Horse Racing Board (The New York Times, 3/24/12)

In a column in HorseRace Insider Tuesday, (racing) journalist and lifelong handicapper Mark Berner renounced his beloved “sport” – yes, renounced, as in he’s done. And here are some of his reasons why:

“The horseracing industry runs on a pack of lies, a bunch of swindles, hidden information, and many corrupt and illegal activities for the love of money, not for love of the horse.”

“I will no longer support a fractured industry of disparate alphabet organizations now guided by greed. You have killed the game for me.”

“It does not matter if you knew Mongolian Groom. I did not. But I did know horses now buried in infields of racetracks and in Claire Court at Saratoga Race Course. I walked shedrows and I pet them on their heads. Now they are dead. It has happened a thousand times before and will again.”

“It happened slowly over the past few years as I wrote about rescue, slaughter and drugs. What put me off most is the great number of industry people who favor the latter two.”

“The game is rigged at every level, with rampant cheating its finest art form.”

“I am done supporting a sport that kills its stars.”

Just a few questions, Mr. Berner. You admit to it – dead horses – “happen[ing] a thousand times before,” with horses “buried in infields of racetracks” the country over – and yet it has taken you this long, 44 years, to get out? Or are you suggesting that this – dead horses – is but a recent thing? Please.

What “put [you] off most is the great number of industry people who favor [slaughter]”? “Put you off”? Not revolt you to your core? Nonetheless, thank you for the quote. It’ll make a great addition to this list.

And finally, you are deluding yourself if you think there was a golden age of horseracing; age, as in the inexorable aging of the human brain, has a way of doing that (“I remember when…”). Horseracing is animal exploitation, animal cruelty, and animal killing. Ever it was, and ever it will be (until, that is, we send it to the same ash heap in which Ringling Bros. currently resides). So again, thank you for hammering one more nail by getting out so very publicly. Would that others of your ilk – old men fervently and desperately clutching their DRFs – follow suit. (As Berner was managing editor and “one-third of its staff,” this might be the end for HorseRaceInsider – “The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing” – too. ‘Twas a good day indeed.)

According to the Collins Dictionary, “stupid” is “lacking in common sense, perception, or normal intelligence”; “slow-witted.” With that as backdrop, I call your attention to a recent op-ed from former jockey and current analyst Donna Brothers in the Paulick Report. While the article, which is mostly a diatribe against PETA, should be fully ingested for a true appreciation, here are my highlights (and comments in italics):

“…[on domestication] PETA is on a mission whose end-game is to eventually halt the natural bond between man and animal that has led them to co-exist since before written record!”

There is, of course, nothing natural about domestication; in fact, it is the antithesis.

“Horses have also seen man into civilization; helped them win battles at war…”

In the Civil War alone, the number of equines killed to “help man win battles” is measured in the millions. Scores of patently gentle, innocent animals killed in violent, horrific, and terrifying ways so man could wage war. There’s no glorifying that.

“The thing about horses is that they’re going to run, play, jump, frolic and race across vast fields with or without us. What makes us love them is that they are gracious enough to let us go along for the ride.”

What happens in nature bears no resemblance to what happens at a racetrack, where nose chains, tongue ties, mouth bits, and perched, whip-wielding humans prompt the “playing” and “frolicking.” “Gracious enough to let us go along for the ride”? Vile.

“And, yes, sometimes horses are fatally injured alone in a field—or on the track—while doing this. It will break my heart every single time, but I know with all that I am, that they love their humans and their sport as much as we love them and this sport that allows us to interact with them in a deeply meaningful and fulfilling way.”

Yes, they “love their humans” – the same humans who lock them in tiny stalls for over 23 hours a day (born to run?); who stick them with needles and beat them with whips; who buy, sell, trade, and dump them like common Amazon products; and who ship them – by the thousands every year – to brutal, bloody, and violent ends. That’s “interact[ing] with them in a deeply meaningful and fulfilling way”? Contemptible, Ms. Brothers.

“Though musculoskeletal injury to a horse during racing is an aberration, it is a gut wrenching event for everyone.”

Yes, that’s right, I’ve documented thousands of “aberrations” on this site.

“Much of what humans know about the care of horses…is owed to private funding from the thoroughbred racing industry. We reduce the likelihood of terminal skeletal injury, and we’re getting better at it all the time. That said, we cannot totally eliminate the evolutionary destiny of horses left to their own accord anymore than we can eradicate all diseases and fractures in man.”

“…the evolutionary destiny of horses left to their own accord” – I’m running out of adjectives.

“It sounds silly to those who don’t follow horse racing, but these horses aren’t just our friends. We work with them day in and day out. Our entire life revolves around their care and they become family. We cheer for them and fear for them. We hope for them, we laugh with them, and we even cry for them.”

Question for Ms. Brothers and her “horse-loving” brethren: Ever dropped a horse in a “claiming race,” thereby putting that “family member” up for sale? Thought so. And can you identify the whereabouts of all your past “family members”? Didn’t think so. And to say you “fear for them” after you yourselves have willfully and unnecessarily put them in harm’s way is but another in a long line of obscenities.

“Compared to approximately 55 training or racing fatalities per month in the U.S. (1.86 per 1,000 starts), there are nearly 3,300 human deaths per month due to automobile accidents. … It turns out that it is actually safer to race our horses than it is to drive our children on the roads…”

First, your number – 55 – is woefully understated; it’s more like 155. As to comparing racehorse kills with automobile deaths, I’d wager that even those children you speak of would grasp the absurdity.

“One of the arguments against racing that I’ve heard is that people can accept injuries in human athletes since they choose to compete, but race horses are forced to race—it’s not their choice. Any horseman reading this can confirm that this is not even possible! … If a horse does not want to race there is no amount of persuasion that will change that horse’s mind. I’ve seen horses that don’t want to race—and we don’t race them! Not every thoroughbred is born with racing on their mind but the vast majority of them are… … Our horses that race, love to race, and we love to watch them—even help them—achieve their best form.”

Speechless.

And finally, this:

“People haven’t domesticated horses, dogs and cats, they’ve domesticated themselves.”

Your capacity for perversion is truly dizzying, Ms. Brothers. Again, I refer to the dictionary: “domesticate: to train or adapt (an animal or plant) to live in a human environment and be of use to humans.” Tamed by man for man, including, of course, your precious horses. To paraphrase Forrest Gump, stupid is as stupid writes.

Within Racing, at least the parts that incessantly talk of “integrity,” owner/breeder (with a Derby winner on his resume) Barry Irwin has a stellar reputation. A self-described member of the “hay-oats-and-water crowd” (no raceday meds/doping), Irwin is the proud recipient of the “Equine Savior Award” from a prominent horse rescue. In short, he’s one of the industry’s “good guys,” or so the apologists tell us.

So I read with interest a BloodHorse article Wednesday that says Irwin’s “Team Valor” operation “is phasing out its stable in the United States and will focus on racing in Europe.” Irwin explains: “With what’s going on in America right now, I am not enjoying racing here as much. So I’d rather go to Europe where I can enjoy it.” Or – it’s time to get the hell out of Dodge. But it was this passage that really caught my eye:

“I’ve enjoyed it and I’ve done for it for 30 some years, but it’s reached a point where I’d like my people and me to be in the business as full-time professionals. So the idea is to buy a horse after a start or two, which we have been doing, develop them, and then either sell half of them or all of them for a profit. … I’ve now told people up front that going forward if you want to participate in these partnerships with me that our goal is to sell them and make money. … That’s the bottom line.”

“…our goal is to sell them and make money.”

A sort of template, the article says, is the recently-sold Talk Veuve to Me. “Talk Veuve to Me still has a lot of racing in her,” Irwin said, “but we had some fun with her, made some money, and it was time to sell her so we can do it again with another horse.”

“…we had some fun with her, made some money, and it was time to sell her so we can do it again with another horse.” (By the way, Irwin already did this to his aforementioned Derby winner, Animal Kingdom, who was “sold to Japanese interests last month.”)

Commodities. Assets. Things. Chattel. Slaves. Racehorses, through the eyes of one of the “good guys.” Vile.

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.

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