Spotlight on Animal Heroes:
Patrick Battuello, Founder and President, and Nicole Arciello, Executive Director of Horseracing Wrongs
Patrick Battuello Testified About Cruel Treatment Before NYS Senate Committee
“Horseracing in NYS, horseracing in America, has run its course – horseracing must end.” Patrick Battuello was direct when he testified before a New York State Senate committee about the cruelties inherent in the horseracing industry (listen to Patrick’s testimony). “Horseracing is unremitting confinement and isolation. The typical horse used in the racing industry is kept locked – alone — in a tiny 12×12 stall for over 23 hours a day. Horseracing is control and subjugation — it is lip tattoos, cribbing collars, nose chains, tongue ties, mouth bits, and whips.”
Patrick and Nicole became animal rights advocates while protesting performances of the Ringling Bros. Circus. In 2009, they launched the first animal-rights blog for a mainstream newspaper, Albany’s Times Union.
Founder of Horseracing Wrongs
While doing research on horse racing for the blog, two things jumped out: First there was an absolute dearth of information — no one knew how many horses were dying at American tracks, let alone the circumstances. No one group was solely focused on the industry. They decided to step into that void and founded Horseracing Wrongs (HW) in 2013.
HW’S mission is to end the horse racing industry in the U. S., primarily through a hearts and minds campaign — educating the public on its inherent cruelty and deadliness. Their group pursues legislation to outlaw horse racing throughout the country. They produce materials –banners, signs, leaflets and most excitingly, mobile billboards — which were visible at all three Triple Crown races last year, as well as at the Saratoga Race Course and the Breeders Cup in California. To date, they have sponsored protests at 25 tracks in 20 states. In conjunction with local advocates, they fought back new track proposals in Massachusetts and Georgia and their protests played a part in the closure of Portland Meadows in Oregon.
HR Exposes Number of Horses Killed in Racing Industry
Through FOIA requests to state racing commissions, HW has documented — with names, dates, locations, and details — over 8,000 deaths at U.S. tracks just since 2014; they estimate that over 2,000 horses are killed racing or training across America every year.
With roughly 100,000 horses used in racing in the U.S. at any given time, and some 20,000 new Thoroughbreds registered with the Jockey Club each year, Patrick explained that, “The typical horse is thrust into intensive training at 18 months. Their bones are not done growing, plates are not done fusing until six years of age. They are raced at two. A two-year-old horse is the rough equivalent of a six-year-old child. Four, three and two-year-old horses are dying with chronic conditions like osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease – clear evidence of the incessant pounding these pubescent bodies are forced to absorb.
“And just to be clear, death at the track is neither clean nor tranquil. Death at the track is cardiovascular collapse, pulmonary hemorrhage — or bleeding out from the lungs, blunt-force head trauma from collisions with other horses, broken necks, severed spines, ruptured ligaments, and shattered legs. Hundreds more die back in their stalls from things like colic, a painful abdominal affliction; laminitis, excruciating inflammation in the feet; respiratory infections; neurological disorders; parasitic infestations; or as often seen in the FOIA documents, ‘found dead in the morning.’”
Annually Up to 20,000 Horses Bred for Racing Are Sent to Slaughter
Equally upsetting, to compound the misery in their lives, 10,000 to 20,000 are transported to and slaughtered in Canadian and Mexican slaughterhouses annually.
Goal of HR Is to Shut Down Race Tracks and to Make Horseracing Illegal
Asked about their biggest challenge, their answer is clear, “Getting the public and media to stop thinking of horse racing as a sport. Horse racing is simply animal cruelty.” They are motivated to continue by the horses who desperately need them. “We are their voice. Our goals are to educate and shut down racing, track by track, and change the laws, state by state, to make horseracing illegal.”
What You Can Do
Nicole urged individuals who care about horses abused in the racing industry to join or organize a protest at a track near them, support legislation that would end state subsidies to the horse racing industry, write letters to the editor, and join Horseracing Wrongs! Follow HW on Facebook. HW website is: www.horseracingwrongs.org Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
New York State Humane Association Humane Review, Vol. XXXIX, Spring 2022.