On The Sad Prevalence Of Abuse In The Horse Racing Industry

By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog.

The New York Times has been issuing a steady stream of reports on:

Ernie Paragallo, the prominent New York thoroughbred breeder and owner whose horses were found emaciated and on their way to slaughter last month, [also] had horses rescued from his Center Brook Farm in 2007. They were starving and required more than a month in an equine hospital in Saratoga Springs.

The Times also wrote:

Paragallo, who was at Aqueduct on Saturday watching his colt Cellar Dweller finish sixth in the $750,000 Wood Memorial, said he had given horses away from his farm in Climax, N.Y., around that time but said he was not aware that they were in poor shape.

Paragallo has yet to be charged with any wrongdoing, but the horse racing industry is one with which I am fairly well acquainted. Horses are "adopted" out of slaughter auctions all the time. More often than not, race horses are treated as money machines and foals bred into starvation because if they can't race and win, too many owners don't care what happens to the animal that they brought into the world.

The Times alleges Paragallo bred foals, allowing some of them to starve while going to the track to wager on one horse he reportedly fed enough so it could race. Great thanks to the New York Times for shedding sunlight on such alleged doings, but this is not as rare as one might think.

The proper regulatory body (here, perhaps, the Jockey Club?) should bar breeders found to have starved or abused even one animal from ever participating in the breeding business again. Is that on the horizon? Methinks not.

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By Bonnie Erbe