Hiding Saratoga horse deaths conceals fact about sport

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Confronted with rising criticism over the toll of its sport on horses, the New York Racing Affiliation is extra aggressively countering its critics. 

Earlier than Travers Stakes Day — which was finally marred by two horse deaths on Saturday, together with one broadcast stay on nationwide tv — NYRA requested that the town of Saratoga Springs transfer protesters from the group Horseracing Wrongs away from the doorway to Saratoga Race Course on the intersection of East and Union avenues. Town subsequently requested that the group relocate to the intersection’s far nook.

“That simply wasn’t acceptable, as a result of we’d be marginalized,” stated Patrick Battuello, the group’s founder, who stated the request was a primary and one which Horseracing Wrongs rejected. 

In a gathering earlier within the week with metropolis officers, together with Mayor Ron Kim and Public Security Commissioner James Montagnino, the protest group did agree to scale back the dimensions of the presence on the nook and transfer a few of its 60 or so protesters elsewhere. Montagnino, who confirmed that NYRA requested to have the protest moved away from the doorway, stated the assembly was amicable.

I’d say it’s to the town’s credit score that NYRA didn’t get its manner, besides it shouldn’t have even made the request. The sidewalk, in any case, is public area. The observe is owned by New York state. Protesters have each proper to collect there, particularly since its prior demonstrations have been peaceable.

“Most of our activists are ladies of their 60s and 70s,” Battuello informed me. “It’s not like we’re the Proud Boys.”

When the protest occurred, it was met by a small group of counter-protesters from We Are New York Horse Racing, a gaggle backed by NYRA and different trade teams. That additionally was a primary, stated Battuello, who believes the demonstrators had been attempting to goad Horseracing Wrongs right into a confrontation that might drive police to clear all protesters from the observe’s entrance. 

“It was about attempting to get us moved off that nook,” Battuello stated. “I’ve no query that NYRA was attempting to muzzle if not silence us.”

NYRA spokesman Patrick McKenna denied that, sustaining that the affiliation respects the rights of protesters. He added, although, that protests have been getting more and more aggressive in recent times, resulting in worries over security and entry. 

But when these are NYRA’s worries, why put counter-protesters into the combination? Wouldn’t they solely add to crowding and the potential for confrontation? (McKenna stated the demonstrators had been unpaid and weren’t NYRA workers.)

Battuello cited different methods he believes NYRA is making an attempt to quell his group’s effectiveness. He famous, for instance, that NYRA not too long ago cited copyright infringement to efficiently foyer YouTube to take away a video exhibiting a horse damage from Horseracing Incorrect’s channel. 

“We’ve by no means had a difficulty earlier than,” Battuello stated. “Now NYRA is attempting to silence us as a result of they’re feeling strain.”

Horse racing is having an particularly unhealthy 12 months. Churchill Downs in Kentucky was pressured to droop racing earlier this 12 months because of horse fatalities. Nearer to residence, the Belmont Stakes in June was largely overshadowed by a troubling spate of horse deaths and questions in regards to the trade’s security and sustainability. 

McKenna, although, countered that the movies in query belong to NYRA — or, in some circumstances, Fox Sports activities —and that the affiliation is doing basically what the Yankees or Mets would do to fight an unauthorized use. That’s very true, McKenna stated, when clips are used to current an unflattering or distorted view of the game. 

NYRA, which is technically a nonprofit, additionally edits its video replays to take away segments by which horses are injured. These moments are traumatic and ugly, McKenna stated by the use of explaining the choices. (Fox Sports activities didn’t replay footage of the Travers Day damage — the horse was euthanized behind tarps — and NYRA didn’t make a replay obtainable on-line.)

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