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An owner putting a blight on horse racing

Posted by on April 10, 2009

Ernie Paragallo is accused of neglecting over 170 horses on a Greene County, NY farm. The ASPCA reported that one young stallion died as a result of the malnutrition and treatment (actually, lack of treatment) received by these horses while under Paragallo’s care. According to The New York Times, who broke the story on Saturday, Paragallo failed to treat the horses and left them malnourished and without hay for bedding, or feed. Horses were hundreds of pounds underweight and in deplorable condition.

The Albany Times Union reported today that the New York Racing Association revoked Paragallo’s privileges to run his family’s stable (Paraneck Stables), and scratched the horses entered through next Wednesday as a result. Good for NYRA. Good for the state for investigating Paragallo and doing what they can — to not only save the horses, but to get him out the sport of horse racing.

Owners of thoroughbred horses have an absolute obligation to care for our horses. We have taken on the responsibility of caring for these animals and should recognize that even off the track we need to care for our animals.

What Paragallo did is unconscionable, and shows that he is not involved in horse racing for the love of the sport. Rather, he is in it for simply for the glory. Clearly, it is not just his responsibility, because both of his daughters (aged 21 and 26) are listed as the owners of Paraneck Stables, while he is allegedly the agent. All responsible parties should not only be prosecuted for neglecting and mistreating these animals, but the State Racing and Wagering Board should pull Paragallo’s license for good.

Horse racing can be a beautiful sport. It can be exciting and exhilarating to watch your horse come down the lane and strive for victory. Trainers work hard to make sure the horses are ready to run. Vets work hard to make sure that the horses maintain soundness. Good owners work hard to allow these people to do their jobs.

What Paragallo did by turning his back on the horses that he and his family own is not only a crime, but something that will give creed to those people who say there is cruelty to animals involved in racing. Paragallo makes it hard to say there are good people in racing, but guess what? There most certainly are good people in racing.

While what he did puts a blight on our sport, we as owners and fans of horse racing need to fight back. We need to let people know of the beauty of the game. We need to make sure that Paragallo is used to show the good we can do in racing rather than the bad as he has shown all too well.

Todd Engel
tengel@engelatty.com
www.engelatty.com

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