Book Review: Missionville by Alex Brown

Missionville, written by Alex Brown (pictured with racing plates). By Vivian Grant Farrell.

(HORSE RACING) — Patrick Battuello, chronicler of racehorse killings at Horse Racing Wrongs, recently reported the death of 7-year old Sing the Dream in a claiming race for 4 yo’s+ at Aqueduct, Saturday afternoon, January 27, 2018.

It was Sing the Dream‘s 50th race. Battuello states the horse “fell heavily” (Equibase) and was euthanized where he lay.

American racing routinely kills its horses particularly in contests such as these — the claiming race.

Alex Brown, author of Greatness and Goodness: Barbaro and His Legacy, has written a book called Missionville which delves into the lives and activities of the people who work horses in the business of the American claiming race.

Missionville is a well crafted story with credibly drawn characters you can root for or against as the author gives you an unvarnished look at the day-to-day rigors of training and racing horses at a small track and its resulting consequences.

Eclipse award winner Mike Jensen, journalist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, in his review of Missionville puts it this way:

Alex Brown, a lifelong horseman, takes you on a journey few are capable of providing. He takes you to the underbelly of the sport. A terrific read”.

Missionville gives true to life insight into what happens to horses when their careers begin to take a downward spiral and tragically end up in the claiming race system.

Missionville is a must read for every racehorse advocate.

Buy it now »

Featured Image: Missionville, by Alex Brown (pictured with used racing plates) by Vivian Grant Farrell.

Alex Brown Releases Video Series on Horse Slaughter

Alex Brown. Google image.
Alex Brown. Google image.

Alex Brown has launched a 55 minute video series titled, Horses: Sports, Culture and Slaughter

The series is designed to be a comprehensive overview of the controversial issue of horse slaughter, in a manner that is not emotional, nor biased.

The goal of this series is purely educational, allowing anyone to get up to speed with all the issues related to horse slaughter in the United States.

Alex Brown has focused on the issue of horse slaughter for eight years. He has not only written about the subject, but has frequented many of the “kill auctions” and other venues related to the issue; much of this content is also featured in the series.

Brown has been a horseman his entire life, galloping horses for many top racehorse trainers for many years. Brown is also the author of the horse racing biography, Greatness and Goodness: Barbaro and His Legacy.

On producing this series, Brown noted,

I wanted to create a resource that anyone could watch and from which they can learn. Some of the discourse that deals with this divisive issue is either biased to the point of view of the publisher / writer, or is so visually horrifying that no one wants to watch. I deliberately stayed away from the gory stuff. Now I just hope people watch, and it creates discussion.”

On why he produced a video, rather than an essay or book, Brown continued,

I recognize how difficult it is to encourage an audience to buy a book, and even then, you don’t know whether it is read. My goal is to get this content out there; I figured a free resource, that the audience can watch, might be the way to go.”


• View full series at »

Dark side of zero tolerance by racetracks on horse slaughter



The following guest commentary by Alex Brown ( discusses the recent implementation by some racetracks of a zero tolerance policy for horse slaughter and the unintended consequences those programs may have.. — Ray Paulick

Recently some racetracks in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region have adopted a zero-tolerance policy for horse slaughter. They will no longer tolerate horses from their racetrack going to slaughter. They will penalize the connections of those horses that are discovered in the slaughter pipeline.

On the surface, this policy sounds excellent. It certainly is well meaning. If you combine this new policy with the resources that are now being targeted for rehoming racehorses by racetracks, it’s even better. LongRun at Woodbine, the first I believe. Finger Lakes Thoroughbred Adoption Program. Philadelphia Park’s new program, Turning for Home. ReRun and Monmouth, and so forth. All very good. (Note: these racetrack programs are not listed because of their zero-tolerance slaughter policy, but because they have assigned resources to support retiring racehorses).

The reality is, however, unless racetracks have done their research and truly understand the scope of the problem of their horses going to slaughter, and can provide alternatives for those horses, a no-slaughter policy may have unintended consequences. To ensure horses won’t go to slaughter, a racetrack needs to provide opportunities to account for all of the horses that are currently being shipped out to slaughter. Those racetracks that are providing alternatives, noted above, are for the most part full. They can only take on additional horses if more adopters and foster homes are found. They simply cannot take on additional horses as demand for their services dictate.

So what happens to the horses at the racetracks with zero-tolerance slaughter policies? Racehorses that were going to public kill auctions?

A policy of zero tolerance for slaughter simply sends some of these horses “underground.” Rather than go to a public auction like New Holland, where they can be seen by private buyers and horse rescues, they go directly to kill buyer feedlots and kill pens. Rescues that once had access to these feedlots and kill pens will no longer be provided access.

Fewer racehorses may enter the slaughter pipeline, but more may ultimately be slaughtered.

Certainly as an industry we are becoming more aware of the problems facing our retiring stars. And kudos for the racetracks who have made these positive steps — especially those tracks that have assigned resources to actively support their retired stars. I just hope that we continue down this path so we are able to safeguard all our stars from slaughter, and not simply divert a number of them underground. Of course, we should also actively support a federal ban on the practice of horse slaughter.

About Alex Brown

Alex Brown was the web master for, a site that became Barbaro central. following the 2006 Preakness. Alex left Tim (on good terms of course) and the Fair Hill training center to travel North America, from one racetrack to the next. He started at Penn National where he spent three weeks as a freelance exercise rider. He then went to Presque Isle Downs, for five weeks during its inaurgural meet (September). He was a groom, hot walker and exercise rider. Next stop was Keeneland for its October meet working for Eddie Kenneally. He was a salaried exercise rider. He then moved to Churchill Downs with the same job for a couple of weeks. In November of 2007 he moved to Sam Houston Race Park, as a salaried exercise rider, to work for Steve Asmussen. In April 2008 he moved to Woodbine to continue working for Steve Asmussen. This site will follow Alex’s journey, as he also writes a book about Barbaro and Barbaro’s legacy.

Alex will continue to provide general racing updates and other updates of interest to Fans of Barbaro with the hope that his site continues to serve as a platform for Fans of Barbaro.

Alex has worked in racing for the last twenty years in North America, at Fair Hill Training Center. He has also worked in racing in the UK, if only more briefly. Alex has an MBA, taught Internet Marketing for ten years, worked in the admissions office at the Wharton School, and has written a couple of White Papers on transparency and the use of blogs.