It’s not that I think all racing people are dumb (though some certainly are). It’s just that so many have become so inured to the cruelty and killing that they say dumb things, seemingly oblivious to how they sound to thinking, compassionate people. Case in point, Rillito’s Mike Weiss in the wake of his track’s deadly opening weekend:

“These are athletes, and they are fragile athletes.”

“They [presumably the horses] know their job, they’re professionals.”

“We just had a couple unfortunate incidents, and I’m hoping to get past that soon.”

In other news, HW had, and will continue to have, a presence at Rillito, teaming up with local activist group SPEAK (Supporting & Promoting Ethics for the Animal Kingdom) this past weekend…


Monday, the Coalition to End Horseracing Subsidies in New York (of which we are a part) held a virtual rally, with Edie Falco of Sopranos fame kicking it off:

Representing HW, I gave the following statement:

State Senator Robert Jackson, a bill co-sponsor, said this: “At a moment when our working-class communities so desperately need funding for critical services like education, human services, and economic justice, to prop up a deadly industry that often abuses and neglects the horses in its care and is known for violations of workers’ rights, with $230 million of New York taxpayers’ dollars, is not right.”

Excellent, of course. But not all thought so. The New York Racing Association’s ubiquitous Patrick McKenna: “This is a willful and irresponsible characterization of the state of horse racing in New York offered by groups whose only goal is to destroy the sport. NYRA is as healthy today as at any point in recent memory and sets the industry standard when it comes to safety and integrity.”

While this grows tiresome, it is, alas, all too necessary. NYRA’s kill totals over the past 13-plus years (2009 is the first year the state began publicly releasing data):

2009: 67 dead horses (partial: database went live in March)
2010: 109 dead horses
2011: 85 dead horses
2012: 95 dead horses
2013: 70 dead horses
2014: 79 dead horses
2015: 59 dead horses
2016: 66 dead horses
2017: 78 dead horses
2018: 60 dead horses
2019: 65 dead horses
2020: 83 dead horses
2021: 76 dead horses
2022: 13 dead horses

That, to be precise, is 1005 dead racehorses at the three NYRA tracks since 2009. And these are only the ones disclosed; surely, there were many more who simply fell through the cracks. The average, in case you’re wondering, is 75+/year. Over the past two full years (2020, 2021), the tolls come in at 83 and 76, respectively – higher than the average. In other words, the lie of “reform” and “safety,” yet again. As for Mr. McKenna’s claim of “integrity,” need I really respond?

In the racing universe, the New York Racing Association, as meticulously detailed on these pages, is about as slick as they come. You have to be, really, in order to effectively spin dead horses. Still, occasionally they let their (marketing) guard down and allow a little truth to creep in. In a NYRA press release Sunday about the horse Big Engine, trainer Rudy Rodriguez was permitted this quote:

“He’s a nice, solid horse – he’s been like a piggybank for everyone who has had him.”

The racehorse as piggybank – there it is, in a nutshell.

A couple days ago, Max Hartgraves of the Arizona Dept. of Gaming issued the following in regard to the heartrending end of Creative Plan:

“The stewards interviewed multiple individuals regarding Creative Plan and determined no rule was broken surrounding this case.”

And that, folks, gets to the heart of it: When animals are legally classified as property – things to be bought, sold, traded, or dumped whenever and however their owners decide – anything can and will happen to these poor, defenseless creatures, including falling into the “wrong hands.” Yes, it’s technically (legally) true that “no rule was broken”; morally, however, all those involved – Wade Rarick, Larry Watson, Curt and Debi Ferguson, Joey Prentice, Turf officials/vets, et al. – have blood on their hands.