End Horseracing in New York State

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For far too long, horseracing has been given cover under the banner of sport, indeed “The Sport of Kings.” In truth, however, it is no such thing. If you dig deeper, if you look beyond the mint juleps and bugle calls, you’ll see that horseracing, at its most basic level, is but a simple vehicle for gambling. $2 bets. The “pampered athlete,” too, is a grotesque lie, for life for the typical racehorse is ugly and mean:

Commodification: Racehorses are literal chattel, pieces of property to be bought, sold, traded, and dumped whenever and however their owners decide.

Subjugation: The horse people thoroughly control every moment of their assets’ lives – control effected through, among other things, lip tattoos, nose chains, metal mouth-bits, and leather whips. Force and power; domination of a weaker species.

Drugging and Doping: Racehorses are injected, legally and otherwise, with myriad substances to enhance performance, mask injury, and numb pain. The horseman’s credo: Keep ’em earning, by any means necessary.

Confinement and Isolation: In perhaps the worst of it all, racehorses are locked in tiny stalls for over 23 hours a day, making a mockery of the industry claim that horses are born to run, love to run. As if not enough, these naturally social, herd-oriented animals are, as babes, forever torn from their families and, except for brief moments on the track itself or while in transport, kept utterly isolated. In a word, heartrending.

Death: Since 2009, when the Gaming Commission began to make these things public, over 1,300 racehorses have died at New York tracks – an average of 138 every year. But that’s just onsite. How many more of the “catastrophically injured” were euthanized back at the owner’s farm? How many more, still, killed at private training facilities? Nationally, Horseracing Wrongs, primarily through our unprecedented FOIA reporting, has documented over 5,000 confirmed deaths; we estimate that over 2,000 horses are killed racing or training on U.S. tracks annually. Pulmonary hemorrhage, head trauma, “sudden cardiac event.” Shattered limbs, ruptured ligaments, broken necks, crushed spines. What’s more, countless other still-active racehorses succumb to colic, laminitis, “barn accidents,” or are simply “found dead” in their stalls.

Slaughter: While the industry desperately tries to downplay the extent of the problem, cunningly flashing its hollow zero-tolerance policies and drop-in-the-bucket aftercare initiatives, the truth is, the vast majority of spent racehorses are brutally and violently slaughtered – over 15,000 Thoroughbreds alone each year. In short, it is no exaggeration to say that the American horseracing industry is engaged in wholesale carnage. Again, not hyperbole – carnage.

Horseracing is in decline, and has been for some time: Since 2000, U.S. Racing has suffered a net loss of 34 tracks; all other metrics – racedays, races, fields, “foal crop,” and, yes, attendance and handle – are also down. Moreover, a majority of tracks – including 9 of NY’s 11 – are being wholly propped up by subsidies – corporate welfare. Clearly, lotteries and independent casinos are winning the market, but politicians, swayed by industry talk of lost jobs and economic havoc should it be allowed to fail, keep sending lifeboats. It is unfair and horses continue to suffer (and die) for it.

Sensibilities toward animal exploitation are rapidly changing, most especially regarding entertainment. Ringling Bros. is no more; Greyhound Racing will soon be; SeaWorld, owing mostly to the film “Blackfish,” has ended its captive-breeding program for orcas; and, as you know, it will soon be illegal to use elephants for any form of entertainment in NYS. Why can’t, why shouldn’t, racehorses be next?

Governor Cuomo, be bold, set an example for the rest of the nation by moving our collective morality forward. End the cruelty. End the suffering. End the killing. End horseracing.



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