It’s been a big, big week in the equine news, and I’ve been so busy, busy, busy that there hasn’t been a moment available to offer up any commentary on all of the headlines that have come across the wire. Today’s Equine Reader post will therefore be a conglomerate of sorts, to get things up to speed.
First off, just a brief mention to congratulate Dressage wunderkind Moorlands Totilas and his rider Edward Gal, whogarnered their third win in the 2009/ 2010 FEI World Cup Dressage Series on Monday in Neumunster, Germany. Though Totilas did not post the same high score that he did in his previous two world record breaking performances, his 87.60% was enough to put him way up on the leader board. How exciting to realize that that sky may be the limit for this pair! I will certainly be watching as they continue their ascent to freestyle glory.
In New York State, the racing world continues to be rocked by two controversial stories, the first concerning the long delayed VLT installation and racino development at Aqueduct racetrack. The folks at NYRA just can’t seem to stay on the good side of the auditors, and investigation has already commenced into the fiscal skeleton of their operation following last December’s announcement that the racing entity would be bankrupt before they made it to this year’s Belmont Stakes. With this week’s revelation of the significant salaries paid to NYRA president Charlie Hayward and COO Hal Handel, further furor has been created in the Albany legislature. Ray Paulick posted some fascinating data concerning salaries among head racing executives nationwide, and it certainly does appear that the NYRA leaders are paid quite well in comparison with their cohorts across the country. Only the heads of the Breeder’s Cup and Jockey Club are, in fact, paid more. With approval still pending for a developer to begin work on the long overdue Aqueduct racino complex, it seems a strange time for NYRA to start attracting so much negative press due to the dubious economic model of its operation.
And finally, Ernie Pagallo, the NY state breeder accused of 35 counts of horse neglect and cruelty after state investigators seized 177 malnourished horses from his farm during a raid in April 2009, went to trial for the abuse in upstate New York yesterday. Paragallo had his racing license and privileges suspended following the raid, and, as the Daily Mail reported, stated on video yesterday that he was "not denying it. If they want to lock me up, maybe they should. Whether it’s my fault or not it happened and it’s my responsibility." Luckily many of the seized horses were turned over to equine rescue and rehabilitation organizations, and are expected to recover.