President’s Message:

What If They Held a Horse Race and No One Came?

Pat Valusek, president of New York State Humane Association
Pat Valusek, President of New York State Humane Association.

We know the lives of racehorses are not glamorous; rather, these animals are exploited for profit. So what can we do to stop this cruel reality? Well, what if they held a horse race and no one came? We hope that will occur someday after people not only know, but also care about what happens to these magnificent animals who are used to maintain this “sport of kings.”

On the way to that goal, there are other actions we can take: call your legislators and ask them to support legislation that makes a dent in the racing industry’s support system. (See the Our Voices in Albany column for details.)

Also, the Thoroughbred industry needs to create a fund to make emergency monies available to horse rescues that provide sanctuary to those wearied and neglected horses who are seized by police in cruelty cases. Though there may be funding available from some retirement programs to support retired Thoroughbreds, those options have complex procedures and requirements that preclude providing the emergency funds so needed when a Thoroughbred is seized as the result of police intervention. And though their original owners may have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for a young racing horse, the vast majority of those owners will contribute nothing toward the cost of emergency care or ongoing needs.

Contrast that with the Standardbred industry, where the US Trotting Association has an emergency fund called Support Our Standardbreds (SOS) that horse rescues can call for help and receive the monies quickly – so they can assist when summoned by authorities to deal with neglected Standardbred horses in a police intervention. The money is used to help with emergency needs such as veterinary, farrier and other care costs.

What is wrong with the Thoroughbred industry that it doesn’t have a comparable emergency fund? Thoroughbred owners who benefit from the profits generated by their horses on the track also need to support those horses if sometime later in their lives they are seized in a cruelty case. It is that simple.

You can help. Please support those reputable horse rescues that are saving the lives of these magnificent animals and urge the members of the Thoroughbred industry to establish an emergency fund to assist the rescues. Please write letters to the newspapers, as well as to the heads of NYRA and the NY Thoroughbred Breeders Association, requesting the establishment of an emergency fund.

New York State Humane Association Humane Review, Vol.XLI, Spring 2023.