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Protesters Confront Belmont Stakes Horse Racing Fans

June 9, 2021 by Leave a Comment

The News

Horse racing fans wore more than just fancy hats and preppy blazers to the 2021 Belmont Stakes. As they walked past dozens of animal rights activists staging a protest at the main gate, they also wore blinders to avoid the images and messages on the posters. As one man said with a touch of guilt in his voice, “Let me just enjoy the horse race.”

The three hour protest, organized by the Albany-based advocacy group Horseracing Wrongs, generated mainstream TV and radio news coverage, so the messages about animal cruelty reached a mainstream public that is increasingly disenchanted with horse racing due to the spate of deaths reported in recent years. At Belmont Park alone, over 500 horses have died since 2009.

ABC News and other mainstream media outlets reported on the large protest at Belmont Stakes.

According to Patrick Battuello, the director of Horseracing Wrongs, the horses are victims of abuse for their entire lives. “They are torn from their mothers at birth. Their bodies are pounded years before they are done forming. They’re confined in stalls for over 23 hours a day. They’re socially isolated in spite of the fact that they’re herd animals. They’re drugged, doped and beaten with whips. They’re bought, sold and traded like inanimate objects. The vast majority of horses who don’t die on the tracks are killed in a slaughterhouse.”

Animal rights activists protesting the Belmont Stakes horse races confront patrons who put on their blinders while walking through a sea of images of horse racing cruelty

Support for a ban on the horse racing industry began to take hold in the mainstream public in 2018 and 2019 after 35 horses died over the course of a few months at the Santa Anita racetrack. At the time, the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times wrote, “Over time, Americans have to decide how much death they are willing to tolerate in this ancient sport.” Since then, both The Washington Post and The Philadelphia Inquirer have published editorials calling for an end to the horse racing industry.

In 2020, The Washington Post and The Philadelphia Inquirer published editorials calling for an end to the horse racing industry

While speaking to reporters during the protest at Belmont Park, activists made another case for a ban on horse racing: New York gives Belmont Stakes and other race tracks across the state over  $220 million in taxpayer subsidies. Edita Birnkrant, the Executive Director of NYCLASS, said her organization is part of coalition of advocacy groups calling on state lawmakers to end the handouts and redirect the money to more worthy causes. “We want to defund horse racing,” said Birnkrant. “Our tax dollars should be used for healthcare or eduction, not for corporate welfare.”

The vast majority of horses who don’t die on the track are shipped to Canada or Mexico to be slaughtered.

Starting in mid-July, Horseracing Wrongs will stage protests at the Saratoga Race Track in Saratoga Springs, New York.

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Unmuzzled: Former Thoroughbred Breeder Exposes Horse Racing Abuse In Tell-All Book

October 30, 2014 by Leave a Comment

The News

When Michigan native Jo Anne Normile entered a granddaughter of Secretariat into racing in 1995, she thought the “Sport of Kings” was all about custom hats, mint juleps, shiny trophies and a blanket of red roses thrown over a gleaming horse. Soon after, however, she learned the truth – that racing is $40 billion gambling industry disguised as a sport – an industry that discards spent horses the way a casino trashes a bent deck of cards.

Jo Anne with Baby at one year old

Jo Anne with Baby at one year old

In 1991, before she became a racehorse breeder and owner, Normile was looking after a horse for a breeder. When the horse gave birth in her barn, Normile had to resuscitate the newborn, who wasn’t breathing. The life-affirming experience moved her to adopt the foal and name him Baby. A year later, Scarlett – the granddaughter of Secretariat – was born in the same barn stall. Both were sent to the track.

Three years later, after Baby shattered his leg on a racetrack due to negligence of the track owners, Normile came to a harsh realization: “When you mix animals and money, the animals will always lose.” And she asked herself, “How I can support racing? The horses spend 23 hours a day in their stalls. Injured horses are forced to run. Drugging and death are rampant. And the finish line is too often a slaughterhouse!” She immediately pulled Scarlett off the track – forever. She says that 15,000 to 20,000 Thoroughbreds are sent to slaughter every year, and many of them are loaded into trailers by kill buyers right behind the tracks.

In her book, SAVING BABY, Normile gives an uncensored account of what happens behind the scenes at the track and chronicles her journey from race to rescue. “When I learned that the abuse and neglect at my own track were endemic to the industry and watched owners sell their supposedly beloved horses for pennies on the pound, I decided to take my fight into the halls of government. After much stonewalling, I resolved to take it to the streets with this book. I want people to know the fate of the horses they watch race.”

Saving Baby

In addition to writing SAVING BABY and lobbying government officials, Normile, as part of her about-face, founded CANTER, a rescue group that, under her leadership, collected more than 4,000 “used up” thoroughbreds at the tracks and transported them to save havens. Today, she gives speeches on the truth about racing at equine events across the country. And she co-founded a new rescue, Saving Baby Equine Charity that rescues all equines at risk.

Jo Anne and Scarlett

Jo Anne and Scarlett

Your Turn

Now available in hardcover, Saving Baby can be purchased at bookstores and online. Readers contribute to the rescue of horses because a portion of proceeds from the sale of every book goes to her new rescue, SAVING BABY EQUINE CHARITY.

To stay apprised of efforts to expose and end horse racing in the United States, please “like” Horseracing Wrongs on Facebook.


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One Man’s Crusade to End Horse Racing in America

October 2, 2014 by Leave a Comment

News & Opinion

Like many other animal rights activists, Patrick Battuello doesn’t care about horses any more or less than he does other animals, so why is this 48 year man from upstate New York running the only organization in the country whose sole mission is to end horse racing?

Patrick Battuello (photo:

Patrick Battuello

It started in the summer of 2012 when the NY Times published a series of articles exposing animal abuse at the top levels of the horse-racing industry. After learning about the abuse, Mr. Battuello searched online for ways to fight the industry and was stunned to discover a lack of information and leadership.

Not only has he, in just two years, filled these voids with his organization Horseracing Wrongs, he has also become the go-to person for advocacy groups and reporters who need detailed information about the “sport.” In addition, his group’s website is serving as a platform where anti-racing activists from around the country can collaborate.

Mr. Battuello and his colleagues at Horseracing Wrongs know that they can’t influence the racers, breeders and others who make a living off the backs of the horses, but they have identified one way to cut into their bottom line: convincing customers that their “$2 bet” can’t justify the widespread death on the tracks – over 2,000/year, in fact.

In their “Plea to Bettors,” Horseracing Wrongs recommends gambling options, like casinos and lotteries, that don’t rely on animal abuse.  It also succinctly describes the abuses built in to the industry:

Horseracing Wrongs' Appeal to Customers

Horseracing Wrongs’ Appeal to Customers

Your Turn

When in spotlight, race horses are pampered and massaged to make the public feel good about racing. But, behind the scenes, they spend their short lives being drugged and abused. To make matters worse, most of the horses who survive the track but can no longer make money for their owners are slaughtered for meat. Like all animals used for entertainment and profit, these horses are treated like commodities, not companions. Please see Horseracing Wrongs to learn more about this cruel sport and the group’s creative efforts to end it.

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