Protesters rally against horse racing in Saratoga – Spectrum News

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As the Saratoga Race Course kicks off its highly anticipated season, a group of protesters has taken to the streets to voice their concerns about the sport. 
Led by organizations such as Horse Racing Wrongs and Western Mass Animal Rights, a group chanted slogans and held signs on Saturday in an effort to shed light on what they believe is a dark side of horse racing by spotlighting the alleged animal cruelty and exploitation associated with the industry. 
According to Patrick Battuello, founder and president of Horse Racing Wrongs, their mission is to "connect the dots" for racegoers.
"We’re here to make them understand that by entering through those gates, paying the admission fee, betting on the races or even watching them on TV, they are inadvertently supporting animal cruelty and the killing of innocent animals,” Battuello said.
"According to Horse Racing Wrongs, close to 10,000 horses have lost their lives due to various causes, including cardiovascular collapse, pulmonary hemorrhage, blunt-force head trauma, and broken necks since 2014. Activists say the number of fatalities continues to rise year after year."
"For most of the horses racing here at Saratoga and across the country, their fate is equine hell," Battuello said. "Once the racing industry is done exploiting them, they are often sent to slaughterhouses in Canada or Mexico."
Despite facing heckling from some attendees, the protesters remain steadfast in their mission. Sheryl Becker, president of Western Mass Animal Rights Advocates, expressed her concerns about the treatment of racehorses.
"These horses are forced to endure grueling schedules, traveling across the country in cramped stalls," Becker said. "Behind the scenes, they are denied a natural life."
Nicole Arciello, executive director of Horse Racing Wrongs, echoed these sentiments, highlighting the alleged abuse and exploitation of racehorses.
"These horses are subjected to abuse and ultimately killed for the sake of a dollar and entertainment," Arciello stated. "You can enjoy a day outside anywhere, but why not do it without causing harm to animals?"
Paulette Wein, a protester from Massachusetts, expressed her determination to see an end to horse racing.
"Horse racing may not cease in my lifetime, but my goal is to bring about its eventual end,” Wein said. “And I believe it will happen."
Spectrum News 1 reached out to the New York Racing Association for comment. NYRA’s Vice President of Communications Pat McKenna released the following statement:
"Organizations like PETA are philosophically opposed to horse racing and make no secret of their desire to end the sport. The reality is that New Yorkers reject this extreme political agenda by attending, watching, and wagering on horse racing in record numbers. Nowhere is that more evident than here at Saratoga Race Course, where the popularity of the annual summer meet is at an all-time high. Groups that seek to end the sport are expressing a view that is wildly out of touch with mainstream New Yorkers throughout the state…..NYRA prioritizes safety and integrity above all other considerations.
"In 2022, 99.83 percent of the 14,043 horses who ran in races at the three NYRA tracks completed safely and without incident. On the training side, 99.95 percent of the 48,219 timed workouts recorded at Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course were completed safely and without incident.
"This record of safe racing is the direct result of NYRA’s commitment to implementing responsible risk mitigation strategies coupled with significant financial investments in racing surfaces and safety protocols informed by data and relevant expertise. Due to these ongoing efforts, serious accidents and injuries are exceedingly rare, as demonstrated by the data.
"While there is always more work to be done, NYRA’s organizational commitment to safety sets the standard for the sport."
Note: This article was updated July 26 to accurately reflect the number of horse deaths reported by Horse Racing Wrongs.

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