ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) – More than 5,000 horses have died from racing or training on U.S. race tracks in the country since 2014.
And over a six-day span this month at Finger Lakes Gaming and Racetrack, there were four equine deaths.
That’s according to Patrick Battuello, the founder of Horseracing Wrongs, a nonprofit organization that he said is committed to ending horse racing in the United States.
He said the horses are bred for speed, are subject to intensive training at 18 months of age and are forced to run at breakneck speeds with a person perched on top of them, wielding a whip.
“So all these factors combined lead to what I call the inevitability of dead racehorses,” Battuello said. “This is something that has always been and will always be a part of this industry. We see this as animal exploitation, animal cruelty — animal killing. No different than Ringling Brothers, which has shuttered its doors for good. No different than greyhound racing, which is on its last legs here in America. No different than rodeos, and there are multiple bans across the country.”
Finger Lakes Gaming and Racing issued this statement in response to its recent horse fatalities:
Finger Lakes remains committed to providing the safest racing operation possible for its equine athletes and those who care for them. Despite this recent timeframe, since the start of 2018, we have experienced fatalities at below (74%) the 2018 national average in terms of racing fatalities per 1,000 starts. Providing for the safety and welfare for those involved with racing is a continuous process that requires constant attention and evaluation. In addition to being accredited annually by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association Safety and Integrity Alliance since 2011, we continually look at emerging industry best practices and consult with local, state and national experts to adjust operational processes for further improvement.
A spokesman for Finger Lakes said its fatality rate since 2018 is 1.23 per 1,000 racing starts; the national rate is 1.68 deaths per 1,000 starts.