Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Conviction in, now throw the book at Paragallo

A Greene County, N.Y., judge has just found a prominent New York race horse breeder, Ernie Paragallo, guilty on 33 of 34 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty for the mistreatment and malnourishment of dozens of horses found on his 500-acre Cocksackie farm.

Paragallo, whose racing license is suspended, during his career as a breeder and owner has started more than 4,500 horses that have earned him more than $20 million in purses. But the conditions found at Paragallo's Center Brook Farm in April 2009 were described as "horrendous," in the words of John Sabini, chairman of the New York Racing and Wagering Board and the state's Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund.

The 52-year-old Paragallo testified last week that he didn't know his horses weren't being fed enough. Judge George Pulver Jr. clearly found that claim impossible to believe. Thus, Pulver handed down convictions that -- though the charges are only misdemeanors -- could result in Paragallo getting up to two years in jail and $35,000 in fines.

I hope he gets every day and pays every penny. And I agree with ESPN's Bill Finley and others that now, post-conviction, Ernie Paragallo must be banned from racing forever.

Granted, Paragallo's attorney has said they will appeal, apparently hoping that the next judge will be blind, deaf and, above all, dumb by every definition. Let's hope they don't get so lucky.

Meanwhile, it's undeniable that this economy is difficult, that making a living from the race game doesn't get any easier, and that it's been widely documented there are horses around the country at risk of malnourishment and even abandonment. Thus, lenient punishments are inappropriate least of all for a noteworthy player like Ernie Paragallo.

His horses have earned tens of millions on the track. He owns interests in stallions including Unbridled's Song, who stands for $100,000 a pop and has been speculated to have earned Paragallo another $20 million over the past few years.

In light of those earnings, a $35,000 fine is chump change. So jail time and that lifetime ban are the only penalties that will really send a message that ensuring horse welfare is indeed taken seriously.


  1. Sheesh! Somehow you just wouldn't expect this of someone who makes his money by maintaining healthy, well-conditioned horses and obviously has the money to feed them.

  2. I hope he is dead broke.

  3. If only horsemen would show the decency to boycott Unbridled's Song, but that's hopeless idea. He starved them "to get them in foal" (how come the yearlings and weanlings were also emaciated?), paid his farm manager to get out of the country before testifying, and shipped horses to slaughter. Anyone who does any business with this man has no honor.

    Pee-you! Begone, Paragallo.

  4. From your words to the Judges ears. He had the means to operate a nice farm. No excuse, throw the book at him

  5. Absolutely no excuse for what Mr. Paragallo did and he deserves to spend time in jail and to pay a hefty fine. Unfortunately the abuse of thoroughbred racehorses is not uncommon and is more widespread than people realize. All of it is totally unacceptable....

  6. I watched WTEN video online. They showed a picture of Paragallo, fat and happy, standing with Princess Jasmine in the winner's circle at Aqueduct in April 2005, and followed with another picture - her emaciated corpse on the ground at Paragallo's upstate NY concentration camp. When the Humane Society raided the farm, she was near death, too far gone in starvation to be saved.

    Multiply that times 177, and who knows how many more starved and slaughtered. Whatever is done to him won't be enough.

  7. Noelle, what a powerful and horrible compilation of footage. It really does say everything about this case: That the horses who made this man what he was in racing's public eye, were ultimately treated as less than nothing when times apparently became tough and their usefulness was at an end.

    You're right; whatever Ernie Paragallo gets will still not equate to "justice."

  8. This man deserves to spend more than two years in jail. I hope he loses everything he has ever earned, including, family and friends. What a horrible person.


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