What’s going on in The Empire State?

NY is the only state in the nation that maintains a public website listing its dead racehorses. Theoretically, any horse who dies on or at a NYS track ends up on this list – and in real time. That said, something very strange is afoot in The Empire State. The last reported death was Tornado City January 26th at Belmont (training). Granted, this is a slower part of the year. Still, five of the seven harness tracks are live, and so is Aqueduct – Aqueduct, which lost 20 horses from October 31st to January 22nd.

In the five full calendar years preceding this one, the longest gap between reported deaths was 29 days (Feb-Mar ’13). Right now, we are at six weeks and counting. Perhaps it’s just a lucky run. Then again, perhaps not. NYRA received a lot of negative publicity during that early Aqueduct spate. And really, would a conspiracy of silence surprise anyone even remotely familiar with this industry? Certainly not me.

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  1. I believe racing has been cancelled and the fields were smaller due to weather conditions so it makes total sense.

  2. It could be a case of saved by the weather. However, knowing racing, I have my doubts.
    Also, the weather put a stop to what would, more than likely, have been a record number of horses killed at Aqueduct.

    • I’m with you, Rose. I put nothing past this industry. Anytime one of its spokespersons addresses a breakdown or death or trainer caught illegally drugging or jockey caught with a buzzer, their statement always includes their concern over the public’s perception…never the horses’ welfare. They’re worried about PERCEPTION when the concern should clearly be with the welfare of the HORSES!

  3. Patrick,

    I believe the database is current, and the patch of bad weather and closures helped reduce the number of breakdowns. Govenor Cuomo instituted the reporting database as he wanted transparency in relaying the information to the public. I have written letters to him on several occasions, one letter about all of the breakdowns at Aqueduct, and the second letter about not letting 2 year old babies race, since their bones are not fully developed at that age. I was outraged about a 2 year old that broke down and was euthanized. He responded to both of my letters and I commend him for that. He also directed a panel to investigate the number of Aqueduct breakdowns. I truly believe, based on his responses, that he is no fan of racing and would love to see Aqueduct shut down. He is the only official that I know of who has had the guts to investigate the unbelievable number of breakdowns. I believe that Gov. Cuomo is a man of integrity. What we need to do is to continue to present our outrage to Govenor’s in each respective state, write the Senators, support the animal welfare agencies and send as much money as you can afford, to agencies like PETA and the Humane Society and appeal to them to take action. Many of the animal rights groups have lawyers on their panels, and have the power to make an impact. It will take hard work, commitment, and unrelenting perseverance to make progress against the racing industry. The good thing is the sport is dying, as more people become aware of the atrocities. Tracks continue to close down, and Aqueduct is sighted for condo’s. Keep up your good work Patrick; throughbred lives matter, and one day they will be free from this life of pain and misery. Marlene Thornley

    • Thanks, Marlene. Yes, it’s certainly possible that the bad weather explains the gap. We’ll see. A couple clarifications: horses don’t reach full maturity till six (so racing a 2-year-old is only marginally worse than racing a 4-year-old), and – and this is very important – the HSUS is not against horseracing. In other words, donations should flow elsewhere.

    • Marlene,

      What is Governor Cuomo’s address that you write to .

      I would like to write him as well. I have good friends that live in New York and will try to get them to write him as well.

      My suggestion

      With PETA and the HSUS, I would recommend that if you send money you send it to a restrictive fund for specifically horse racing and track how they are spending the money for specific campaigns like email alerts and petitions otherwise they will spend it on whatever they want to and you will have no idea where it is going to.

      I am told the HSUS is not even against horse racing so I would not give my money to them. i give 35.00 a year so I can stay on their news alerts but horse slaughter is rarely mentioned and I have Never heard them come out against horse racing and I have been a member since 1999.

      ALso, http://aldf.org is a good group. they are doing work on horse soring cases in tennessee. they just sent me a brief on a case that they have been working on.

      they help in neglect and abuse cases around the country. The founder came out in a video tape against the sled dog races going on right now in Alaska.

      I spoke with an attorney a couple of days ago as I wanted his help for the sled dogs but he cannot help until they change the corrupt laws in Alaska. He has worked there for eight years with law enforcement dealing with cases of animal abuse and horse soring cases etc. I am sending him a link to http://www.horseracingwrongs.com

      The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), founded in 1979, is a national, nonprofit organization of attorneys specializing in the protection of animals and working to ensure the enforcement of existing animal protection laws within the United States. ALDF has staff in California, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Texas; we have a nationwide membership of over 100,000 contributing supporters and over 1,000 attorney members who volunteer to provide pro bono legal work in animal law cases throughout the nation.

      • Kathleen,

        Govenor Cuomo’s address is: The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo, Govenor of New York State, NYS State Capitol Building, Albany, N. Y. 12224. It is a worthwhile pursuit to write to him, as I believe he would love to shut down Aqueduct based on the tenor of his letters.

        Patrick clued me in as to the Humane Society’s position which is not against horse racing, so I sent my $50.00 contribution to “Old Friends” Charity fund in New York. Thanks for letting me know of some good charities to support for the throughbreds. I also send contributions to Tranquility Farm in California, which goes directly to support ex race horses.

        I believe that there should be legislation passed that makes the racing industry donate a portion of the purses to the retirement fund for each throughbred that races. I also am a member of the Animal Defense League which you mentioned. They are a great organization. I was unaware of the peril of the sled dogs. There are so many animals that need our help, yet there are very few specifically designated for throughbreds. I wish that the throughbred had the same protections as other animals do. I think anyone found abusing any animal deserves to go to prison. They would probably need to build a new prison just for the throughbred trainers. I will send a contribution to aldf.org.

        We all know that although we would like it to, horse racing is not going away tomorrow, but our combined effort to end the suffering and misery, and the strength of our voices is definitely a good path to pursue and a good beginning. The more of us that express our outrage by writing letters and signing petitions, the faster we will see legislation passed to at least improve the horrible existing conditions and plight of each throughbred. Our combined efforts can dismantle racing one brick at a time, if we keep the pressure on. I must sign at least 10 petitions a week for all animals, as I am an animal lover. However, my heart is devoted to the throughbred most of all, as I feel so many are perishing brutally, and they need our help urgently!! The abuse of the throughbred is so transparent, and heartbreaking. PETA’s excellent investigation last summer and exposure of the abuse has made an impact on the racing industry and dissuaded many fans away from the track. We will get there Kathleen, one brick at a time. Marlene Thornley

  4. Given Aqueduct’s notorious reputation for deaths and the fact that not even one death in the whole of the State of New York has been disclosed in a period of 6 weeks tells me that they’ve got their backs against the wall and are in damage control. Appears that the current strategy is not to disclose any deaths. New York you might get away with it for the time being but that won’t last – it will all come out in the wash when people spill.
    New York, if it is true that there has not been one death for 6 weeks in the whole of the State then how about doing a public relations exercise for the sake of the image of horseracing. May I suggest that you declare on your website that you are so very proud to announce that not one racehorse has died during this period.

  5. Patrick,

    Thank you for the information, especially that the HSUS is not against horseracing. I will send my contributions elsewhere, and re-direct them to the “Old Friends” Throughbred retirement charity.

    • Marlene…to further confirm Patrick’s correct statement regarding the stance the HSUS takes on racing, recently Oregon’s HSUS state director invited “speakers” to promote horse welfare in a variety of equine disciplines and issues. The person chosen to speak to the welfare issues in horseracing was pro-racing and racing industry member, Alex Brown. What a joke. HSUS is CLEARLY not anti-racing.

      • Joy,

        Thank you for confirming HSUS’s position, as I had no idea they were not against racing. I re-directed my $50. contribution to “Old Friends” Throughbred Retirement charity. I am also sending funds to “Saving Baby Equine Charity in Plymouth, MI, which I believe you have an affiliation with. I have also supported Tranquility Farm in California. I can’t believe a agency like HSUS chose a speaker who was pro-racing. What a joke is right. Thanks for the insight!!! Marlene Thornley

    • Marlene, Joy is correct. Alex Brown made his living, at least for awhile, as an exercise rider. One of his employers was Steve ASSmussen. Therefore, he was part of the exploitation of the TB racehorse.

      • Mary,

        Don’t even get me started on the likes of Steve ASSmussen, and his co-hort the lowest form of a human being “Scott Bliasi” . PETA’s investigation showed what truly goes on, and what is said behind closed doors, and exposed all of the lurid comments, cold, callous, remarks, and abuse for the public to ingest. Including confirmation on the use of buzzers on the horses. It was all filmed. Anyone who saw the film clip, or the article in the daily racing form is clueless no longer. They have absolutely no regard for any throughbred, they took one of Zayas’s horses who had a quarter crack in his hoof, and used crazy glue on the hoof and sent him out to race. When PETA’s article came out Zayas immediately took all of his horses out of ASSmussen’s barn. The heartless comments made by Scott Bliasi make my stomach turn. He should never go near a racehorse again. These two need to be kicked to the curb. Marlene Thornley

  6. Winter racing is just plain WRONG! The owners who truly value their horses aren’t sending them to Aqueduct and when prominent owners like Mike Repole and Barbara Banke make statements about their concerns it’s past time to put an end to this practice. They have already removed the 14 day rule and dehydrated, spent horses are again being sent out in the Aqueduct tundra to battle the elements and fill undercards that simply shouldn’t be filled. It’s brutal!

  7. Aqueduct is a cesspool. It is built on landfill and the track is impacted by the tide. Also, it is in close proximity to Kennedy airport and surrounded by a concrete jungle with bumper to bumper traffic. The backside is a shambles. It is bad enough in summer but winter is an abomination. The people keeping that place going should be ashamed of themselves . But in order to feel shame or compassion one must have a conscience.

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