COMMENT: Horse racing looks to progress, not ‘sterilization to extinction’ – Horse Racing News

When advocates of extreme viewpoints compete for attention, they often rely on the cheap tricks of expert propagandists, such as using highly charged and often outrageous language to make emotional appeals imbued with urgency. Claims are often based on a kernel of truth in order to appear believable. And comparisons are made between their problems and ordinary human experiences; the more emotional, the better.

A Recent Albany union of times The opinion column titled “There’s No Way Around It: Horse Racing Is Immoral,” by Patrick Battuello of Horse Racing Wrongs, is a classic attempt to incorporate fringe ideas.

Mr. Battuello’s spine twists and fabricates information to create outrage and sympathy by tugging at the heartstrings. Use phrases like: “ripped of his mother like a simple baby”, “like a child locked in a closet”, “push inside intensive training,” or “alone and terrified” while paying little attention to the facts or science of pets.

Mr. Battuello has published opinion columns and made media appearances for years in which he constantly ignores the facts and relies on emotional tirades and false claims. In his recent article, he made several outrageous claims with little or no supporting evidence. Like his claim of 2,000 annual racehorse deaths that he admits on his own blog, he made it up using the classic dodge, “we estimate.”

Instead of spreading lies, the horse racing industry is working to keep the welfare of horses front and center with new laws like the Horse Racing Safety and Integrity Act of 2020 (HISA). In principle, this bill was championed by The Jockey Club, which is the registry for Thoroughbred breeds in the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico, and other leading industry organizations, including the New York Racing Association . HISA is an excellent example of how the industry is working to protect horses, in this case by establishing the first national anti-doping program and numerous provisions aimed at the health and safety of racehorses.

And at the state level, governments and organizations are constantly working to make racing safer for horses and jockeys. In the last two decades, California has seen a 60% decrease in horse fatalities due to reforms by the California Horse Racing Board. Numerous security measures have also been adopted in other states, including New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.

Mr. Battuello also wants people to believe that things like weaning, breaking in, stalling and other terms are cruel to horses. On the contrary, these practices are beneficial to a horse. Weaning it is not separating a foal from its mother, but rather it is the transition period from mare’s milk to high levels and various types of feed. Break it is training a horse to be ridden and is used for all breeds and all riding disciplines.

Tools like lip chains and blinders are used to help horses, not to torture them as Mr. Battuello would have people believe.

What people should know, including Mr. Battuello, is how seriously the industry takes the health and safety of horses. In 2008, The Jockey Club created the Equine Injury Database (EID) to track racing injuries. In contrast to Mr. Battuello’s “estimated” claim of 2,000 deaths per year, the actual death rate is more than 50% lower and was 29.5% the lowest since 2009 last year.

Mr. Battuello’s emotionally charged rhetoric proclaiming the horrors of 2-year-old racehorses ignores facts and science. Data has shown that 2-year-olds who race have longer, healthier lives than horses who don’t start until age 3 or older. This research, which was determined using scientific evidence, to members of the industry.

But Mr. Battuello’s outrageous claims should come as no surprise because Horse Racing Wrongs’ goal is not just to end horse racing, but to end all use of domestic animals for food, as pets or as service animals. In a now-deleted statement on his website, Battuello wrote: “We hold that no animal should be bred, domesticated and used for human purposes. Evil, as we see it, begins and ends with animal property.

And Battuello’s status as an extremist representative of a fringe group is evidenced in a now-deleted blog he wrote for the union of times in 2014. His writing advocated living in a “pet-free society” and called for all domestic animals to be “sterilized to extinction” to prevent future generations from ever existing.

“Sterilization to extinction” and lies are not the answer to making racing safer for horses and jockeys. Progress, however, is what everyone involved in horse racing will continue to work for now and in the future.


David Fuscus is CEO of Xenophon Strategies, a Washington, DC communications firm that has been hired in the past by The Jockey Club and other industry organizations. He is a lifelong racing enthusiast and occasional owner of fractional racehorses.

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