Racing Association Adopts Anti-Slaughter Policy
The New York Racing Association said it would bar any owner or trainer from competing at its racetracks if any of their horses were sold for slaughter. It also urged horsemen who are part of what is widely considered the premier racing circuit in the nation to support rescue and adoption efforts and to find humane ways of dealing with horses that are unable to continue racing.
This aggressive anti-slaughter policy comes after Ernie Paragallo, a prominent New York breeder and owner, was barred from racing in the state when more than 170 malnourished horses were found last April at his Center Brook Farm in Climax, N.Y.
The scandal erupted after horse advocates discovered that Paragallo-owned horses were earmarked for slaughter in “kill pens.”
Paragallo, who was arraigned in August on 35 counts of animal cruelty, could face up to two years in prison and $35,000 in fines.
The policy also comes at a time when horse racing is under intense scrutiny for a range of issues, including the illegal use of drugs, overuse of legal medications and lax oversight and weak penalties on matters concerning the welfare of horses. The racing association also instructed owners and trainers to know with whom they are dealing when buying and selling horses.
“We are fully committed to protecting our sport’s equine athletes,” said Charles Hayward, NYRA’s president and chief executive. “This policy sends the message that horse slaughter will not be tolerated and that those participating in this practice, either knowingly or for lack of due diligence, will not be welcome at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, or Saratoga.”