Sunday, Horseracing Wrongs was again out in force for our weekly protest at Saratoga Race Course. And again, the regional media was all over it. This, of course, allows us to reach exponentially more consumers – literally, hundreds of thousands of people. In short, the momentum here is going but one way.
Inevitably, though, the other side is afforded ample space to respond (most of the time, greatly exceeding our own). Sunday was no different. First, Gary Contessa, $80 million career-earning trainer, reacting to my own comment about Racing being cruel, said this to Spectrum: “These are our children. These are our pets.” Well. Mr. Contessa entered two horses at Saratoga Sunday, Will Do It in the 2nd, Truly Courageous (who ended up being scratched) in the 10th. Both races, as it happens, were of the “claiming” variety, meaning both of Mr. Contessa’s “children” were, or would have been, “For Sale” prior to (prior to, that is, being put to a whip).
Worse still, another of Contessa’s horses, 3-year-old Charlonique, was killed training at Belmont just yesterday. Look, we’ve long since known that these people are callous – the evidence of cruelty and killing is overwhelming – but what this quote also betrays is an utter contempt for the public. They’re playing us for fools.
Then came this statement from NYRA, in response to our protest:
“There is no issue more important to NYRA than the safety of our equine and human athletes. That is why NYRA has implemented extensive reforms and made significant investments since 2013 to improve track surface conditions, upgrade equipment, provide vets with more authority to monitor thoroughbred health, establish committees to oversee safety measures, and actively seek out advice and guidance from independent experts and scientists. We remain steadfast in seeking to continuously improve the safety of our racing operations and will never waver from this commitment.”
Well. Since 2013, the year these supposed improvements began, both total deaths and racing-only deaths are up (11% and 20%, respectively) at the three NYRA tracks. Yes, that’s right, there were more dead horses in 2017 than in 2013. I say again, ignore their pony and pony show. Horseracing kills horses, always has, always will.