Letter: Horse racing is a cruel, deadly venture

Jockey Mike Smith rides Justify, right, into the far turn during the Belmont Stakes horse race in June 2018 at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.

To the editor:

Regarding the Aug. 11 article "Suffolk Downs likely 'grandfathered' at Great Barrington Fairgrounds, but questions remain," I must object to the characterization of racehorse death as "occasional." As one of the nation's foremost experts on racehorse deaths, I can state unequivocally that nothing could be further from the truth.

Through our unprecedented Freedom of Information Act reporting, Horseracing Wrongs has documented — with names, dates and locations — more than 5,000 confirmed deaths on U.S. tracks, just since 2014. We estimate that more than 2,000 horses die while racing or training across America every year. In Suffolk Downs' last year of regular racing — a five-month period in 2014 — 11 racehorses lost their lives. In addition, hundreds more nationwide die back in their stalls from conditions like colic or laminitis, or are simply "found dead in the morning." Perhaps worst of all, two studies indicate that the great majority of spent racehorses are brutally and violently slaughtered at their career's end — more than 10,000 thoroughbreds each year alone. Put bluntly, the American horse racing industry is engaged in wholesale carnage. That's not hyperbole: carnage.

Currently, there are no active thoroughbred tracks left in New England. Massachusetts should maintain its status as a moral beacon and keep it that way. Say no to animal exploitation, cruelty and killing. Say no to horse racing.

Patrick Battuello,

Albany, N.Y.

The writer is founder and president of Horseracing Wrongs, a nonprofit organization committed to ending horse racing in the U.S.