Question by trishh: What exactly happened at Paraneck Stallions (NY) breeding farm? (more info)?
I bought a horse a year ago that was rescued from Paraneck Stallions Breeding Farm. The old owners didn’t really tell me much, just that she was left in a field with a bunch of fillies. I did some more research, and apparently it was a huge thing. Does anyone know what happened exactly? Thanks, just curious.
Answer by Karin C
What happened was that Ernie Paragallo, who owns Paraneck Farms and the Paraneck racing stable, got into financial difficulties and couldn’t pay for the upkeep of the horses that he had on his farm, and the New York Times broke the story on April 4, 2009. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/04/sports/othersports/04horses.html?scp=49&sq=ernie%20paragallo&st=cse
This was particularly shocking since Paragallo was well-known as a big spender at high-profile Thoroughbred auctions, and was the owner of Unbridled’s Song, who is a hugely successful sire.
The article in the NY Times triggered a cascade of events, which eventually led to Paragallo being convicted of 33 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty in relation to the investigation the Times article triggered. http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/55796/paragallo-convicted-of-33-misdemeanors
Paragallo also lost his owner’s license, so he can no longer own any interest in any Thoroughbred racehorse, either as a principle owner or as part of a partnership or syndicate, or through any stable or other nominee.
The Jockey Club stripped him of his right to register Thoroughbreds, so he cannot be a breeder of Thoroughbreds.
The most recent action concerning him was at the end of March. The New York Racing Association tracks have permanently banned him from all racetracks in NY. That means he cannot set foot on any track even as a spectator. The NYRA has asked that all other racing jurisdictions follow suit and ban Paragallo. http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/62230/paragallo-permanently-banned-from-ny-tracks
Basically, and a lot depends on who you believe, Paragallo got caught up in a cash flow problem when we had the stock market crash and the other financial problems that started around the end of 2007. He was already probably overextended as a horse owner/breeder at that time, because he’d bought a lot of horses and had built up his holdings to the point where it was hard to immediately determine exactly how many horses he did own, since some were owned in partnerships, some were owned through other family members, some were owned in the name of Paraneck Stables rather than in his own name and Paraneck was not solely owned by Paragallo, and some of the horses were the result of pinhooking ventures and foal-sharing arrangements.
Anyway, Paragallo couldn’t pay the bills on all his horses. It appears that he had his horses divided among several locations, with the most valuable horses he owned at different locations in Kentucky, and the least valuable horses at his farm in New York.
There were a lot of people who felt that if Paragallo was culpable as the owner of the horses, the people who were responsible for the management of his farm and who oversaw the day-to-day operations of his equine interests were even more culpable, because they were the people who watched the horses starving day by day and oversaw the neglect, and didn’t report the situation to humane authorities more quickly. As Dr. James Holt, the vet who tended many of the horses when the situation came to light, observed: “It didn’t happen overnight.” It took weeks of neglect for the horses to get into the condition in which they were found.
As the magnitude of the situation came to be understood, the humane and legal authorities started working directly with Paragallo to get the horses taken care of. The jurisdiction that had authority to prosecute Paragallo had some leverage; as is usually done in such situations, they made a deal to reduce the charges against Paragallo, which could have been felonies, if he would expedite the release of the horses to various rescue organizations for adoption where that was appropriate, allow the euthanization of horses that were unadoptable because of health issues, and sell his interests in other horses as quickly as possible so that money could be turned over to the rescue organizations and vets that worked on caring for the horses.
This is a situation that got a lot of people in the industry very, very upset, because it happened in the full light of day and literally dozens of people were aware that it was happening and nobody blew the whistle on Paragallo. This wasn’t a case of one or two horses being starved out in a field in the middle of nowhere by an owner who was himself in dire straits; this was a case of a man who continued to operate a racing stable and traveled by chartered jet, and who had credit extended to him by the major Thoroughbred auction companies, while dozens of his horses were being neglected on the farm he owned.
A very, very, very sad situation.
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