Prominent horseman faces questions about neglect (US)

Cross-posted from The New York Times

By JOE DRAPE
April 3, 2009

Four undernourished and neglected former racehorses belonging to Ernie Paragallo, a prominent New York thoroughbred breeder and owner, were rescued from a New York kill pen last month, one step from being slaughtered. They were among more than 20 horses from Paragallo’s Center Brook Farm in Climax, N.Y., that were sold to slaughter for $680.

Finely Decorated, who had lice, was one of four rescued mares. Photograph Courtesy Another Chance 4 Horses.
Finely Decorated, who had lice, was one of four rescued mares. Photograph Courtesy Another Chance 4 Horses.

Finely Decorated, who had lice, was one of four rescued mares.

The four mares were “hundreds of pounds” underweight, infested with lice and parasites and in “horrible condition,” according to Dr. James Holt, a Pennsylvania veterinarian who examined them.

While Paragallo says he had given the horses away four months ago and was not aware of their sickly state, the discovery comes at a time when the thoroughbred industry is under increasing scrutiny of the health and welfare of its equine athletes.

Paragallo’s colt Cellar Dweller will run in the $750,000 Wood Memorial on Saturday at Aqueduct, and his most famous horse, Unbridled’s Song — of whom he is half-owner — commands a $125,000 stud fee in Kentucky.

Paragallo said Thursday that he had given the horses away to a Florida-based breeder, whom he did not identify, in December with the agreement that he could breed the mares back to one of his stallions based in New York or Florida. In fact, Paragallo said, he had intended to ship another batch of horses to the man.

“We were going to move 60 horses and get the added benefit of earning the breeder’s reward if any of the babies did well at the racetrack,” he said, referring to a New York state incentive program for breeders. “It was a home run for business.” www.NYTimes.com >>

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