Since our founding in 2013, Horseracing Wrongs has traveled in one direction. But sure as day follows night, our growth – in followers, reach, media coverage – has engendered a proportional escalation of enmity from the other side. Precisely because we are not at all interested in compromise or reform – an admittedly extreme position – and wish Racing extinct, they hate us. And they’re desperate.
Backs against the wall, and in true Trumpian (a new adjective for our times) fashion, the racing apologists distract, deflect, deceive. Or just plain lie. Sometimes, this takes the form of simple ad hominem attacks (but I’ve grown increasingly thick-skinned and can take it). Other times, it is a twisting of my words – e.g., I equate “vanned off” with dead (I don’t, never have). And every so often, one of these people slithers out to proclaim – usually on a very public forum – that we have misreported a kill or that I have horses on my Killed lists who are very much alive. To which we respond: Identify a horse, any horse. Name one. Nothing, silence. But finding an error is not really their objective; sowing doubt, impugning my credibility/integrity is.
Recently, a well-known and respected insider took this whole charade to new heights. On her Facebook page, Kathryn Papp, Pennsylvania veterinarian, said this in regard to Horseracing Wrongs and my work:
“Can you [HW supporter] cite scientific published peer reviewed statistical data and analysis rather than unconfirmed, biased, non-scientifically designed information like horseracing wrongs? I understand and actually applaud patrick’s research, but have come across multiple wrongly reported deaths i know for a fact are not true. Nothing against them…but without someone knowledgable fact and number checking, you can not be sure of statistical and numerical truth or facts that they are posting.”
“Unconfirmed”? All my listed kills are fastidiously confirmed. Each and every one.
“Biased”? By definition, facts cannot be biased.
“Non-scientifically designed information”? Is a death certificate from a state racing commission not “scientific” enough? How about data from the industry-sanctioned Equibase charts? Stewards Minutes? Absurd.
“Someone knowledgable”? While not a vet, Ms. Papp, I can most assuredly read and comprehend words like “euthanized” and “collapsed and died.”
After our Joy Aten and Nicole Arciello challenged her, Papp replied: “I will look up the names of the horses i had recorded (the last time i was reading them closely was last year) and i came up with 3 or 4 horses who were listed as deceased but were actually with an adoption program or back with breeder or adoptive family. I will go back and pull them. I have them written down somewhere.” “Written down somewhere.” Then this: “It is just that last time i reviewed postings on horse racing wrongs…i have seen a few horses listed by them as ‘vanned off and can be considered as good as dead.'”
The words “vanned off and can be considered as good as dead” have never – I repeat, never – appeared on my website.
Finally, she presented “evidence” of a mistake: “van persie was not euthanized several days later.” Apparently, it was a couple weeks rather than the several days I recorded. Is this what is to pass for a “wrongly reported death”? If this were a court case, she’d be laughed from the room. Bottom line: Van Persie is dead from a racing injury. Does it really matter when the euthanasia came?
After some more back and forth, Papp apologized – sort of: “i apologize. I have reviewed your ‘confirmed’ lists and from what i know of the PA horses the updated lists verified via FOIA are correct. However, the initial reports on your blog and fb page strongly suggest most of the vanned off are dead or will be and that is not true. It was the inital reports from years ago already, in addition to the information on van persie this year, that were not accurate but the confirmed lists to my knowledge are.”
“Again, you may want to have unbiased knowledgable people review the reports. There was a horse listed who died of meningoencephalitis as you have listed that had nothing to do with racing nor did the pathologist completing the necropsy report sum findings up the way you did. I know because i euthanized burning point.”
Burning Point does not, nor has he ever, appeared on my Killed list. (Note: The Killed lists are and have always been reserved for track-related – racing or training – deaths.) He was, however, included in my 2016 Pennsylvania FOIA post where I reported all casualties from that state – track and otherwise. Here is my full entry for Burning Point: May 26, Penn, “lymphohistiocytic meningoencephalomyelitis with necrosis” (last raced April 23). Again, not on the KIA list. Period. Apparently, close reading, at least where my site is concerned, is not one of Ms. Papp’s strong suits.
Ultimately, we arrived at this: “The horses i was thinking of as ‘falsely reported as dead’ were listed before you put together the FOIA confirmed lists, back in 2014/2015. Since you have been requesting necropsy reports i have not seen any wrongly included and have looked through 2014-2016. I already posted above an apology that it was not your confirmed list that contained falsely deceased horses. …i completely agree with and applaud you regarding your FOIA listings.”
Within a single thread, Ms. Papp went from “multiple wrongly reported deaths i know for a fact are not true” and “3 or 4 horses who were listed as deceased but were actually…” to “i have not seen any wrongly included and have looked through 2014-2016” and “i completely agree with and applaud you regarding your FOIA listings.” (2014, by the way, is when I started the Kill lists, so when, exactly, was it that I was supposed to have falsely reported?)
Facts, as the great John Adams said, are stubborn things. Horseracing kills horses. That’s a fact. What I do here is provide overwhelming evidence – names, dates, locations. In this pursuit, I am unfailingly meticulous. (Truth is, I am constitutionally incapable of being anything but.) I am not infallible, but to this point – through four years and over 3,000 names – my lists are. That’s not a boast, just a fact.