Saratoga Horse Racing

Feel-Good Opportunity of the Week: Help Rescued Thoroughbreds via Columbia-Greene Humane Society Booth at Saratoga Race Course!


Columbia-Greene Humane Society Logo.gifOn Wednesday, August 26th, we'll have the opportunity to thank the good hearts of the Columbia-Greene Humane Society (henceforth, CGHS) for all the work they do, day-in and day-out, year after year.

But the work for which we who love horses are most grateful is their tremendous work on behalf of the nearly 200+ horses who were neglected, sick and starving on Ernie Paragallo's farm in Climax, New York. 

Unless you've lived under a rock for the last half-year, you know the story.  Paraneck Stables, the racing arm of Paragallo's dysfunctional empire, has a farm in Upstate New York.  On this farm lived Thoroughbreds who somehow fell through the cracks.  How an 1,nearly 200-pound animal can fall through the cracks is beyond me.  How over nearly 200 of them can go unnoticed is absolutely unfathomable.  Somewhere along the line, "benign neglect" was replaced with "intentional, passive-aggressive murder attempt."

And so the CGHS stepped in in April, and confiscated the horses whose lives were endangered.  All were treated, pro bono, by a man I am dubbing, Saint Jerry--Dr. Jerry Bilinski, the equine veterinarian who could not let these horses suffer when he had the tools, knowledge and compassion to help.   Ronald L. Perez, Jr. (Ron Perez),  the dedicated and compassionate Director and Investigator of the CGHS, would not tolerate these actions:  his team of Board members, volunteers, staff and enforcement officers snatched the horses and got them to Dr. Bilinski for Phase I of their rescue.

The next step, that of adopting them out once they were healthy enough to be weaned from medical attention, is in process even as I write this.

This piece is not intended to be a downer, in any way.  Inasmuch as I have very strong feelings about the events, I am neither the judge nor the jury.  I needed to provide background so that you can know what good has been done so far, and that you may realize that more help is needed in order to assure that each of these horses are loved and safe.

And now a piece of Really Good News--the opportunity is presenting itself on Wednesday, the 26th, to step up to the plate and do a kindness for the horses!  On that day, Mary Anne Macica, who, with her sister-in-law, adopted three of the orphans, will join the crew from the Columbia-Greene Humane Society at the Saratoga Race Course to raise funds and awareness of the need for our entire racing community to participate in the continued nurturing of these horses.  About 70 of the horses have been adopted out so far, but there is much work to do in order to assure a bright future for these gorgeous, loving animals.

[NOTE:  I originally instructed that the information booth will be set up near NYRA's info kiosk ("May I Help You?"), inside the Clubhouse entrance of the track. I passed on incorrect info, folks--sorry!   BUT: I realized, after receiving an email from Susan, with different info,  that they'll be outside the Silks Room (opposite side from the Jocks' Room), near the path to the paddock, close to the Union Avenue entrance.  Blood-Horse confirmed this, this morning. Check there first--that's the spot reserved for non-profits.

We'll be there to offer moral support to these wonderful human souls who look into equine eyes and see sadness and are determined to bring the light back into those big, soulful orbs.

Thumbnail image for Williamstown's Eye.jpgPlease make a point to stop by the booth to say hi.  Please give a donation--or arrange to help however you can.  Here's an idea:  instead of doing that expensive wheel (bet) on Wednesday, how about taking that money and dropping it into the coffer?  Or if you can't bear to part with that cash, commit to tithing your day's winnings?  A tithe is 10% of your income--ten percent of whatever you win tomorrow, whether you win $2 or $2,000--will go a long way toward assuring that the horses find loving homes and are provided with food, medicine and all the other essentials to live a peaceful, healthy life from this point-on.  You're not going to miss 10%--but the horses will be blessed immeasurably by your kindness.

I commit to giving 10% of my winnings to the Columbia-Greene Humane Society on Wednesday, August 26th, earmarked for the horses.  I challenge you all to do the same.  Not only will we help the horses find warm, safe homes where they'll sleep well at night--but we'll sleep better, ourselves.  The knowledge that we've done this one thing for these beautiful creatures and the people who've worked 24/7 to save their lives--well, that's reward enough.  Being able to participate on any level, however small or large, is a blessing and a balm to our weary human souls. 

And God knows, modern life does make us weary.  I call horses, "Valium on the hoof," because they calm my spirit immediately upon contact.  The exhaustion of living in contemporary America can drain us of all our resources, including our compassion.  Tithing and other giving to such a worthy cause can only help re-humanize you, and put the spark back into your eye. 

It's a win-win situation.  See you on Wednesday.  And be prepared to feel good about yourself--I joyously anticipate it, myself.


[For more information about Wednesday at Saratoga Race Course, please contact either Mary Anne Macica at (518) 469-3578 or the Columbia-Greene Humane Society, (518) 828-6044.  Thank you, and...May the Horse be with you!]


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M.E. Altieri

THE ALPHA MARE, commonly known as M.E. Altieri, is a writer/editor/activist who lives and breathes the art and sport of horse racing—both Arabian and Thoroughbred.
At the tender age of six months, her Grandmother plopped her on the back of a pony. (See photo.) Three years later, Mare first rode a horse—an American Quarter Horse—on her cousin's farm in Stephentown, New York. That same year her Mother and Grandma took her to Green Mountain Park, a now- (sadly) defunct Thoroughbred track in Pownal, Vermont. Next stop, Saratoga Race Course. The seed was planted, and a passion, born.
While she does have other interests (Medieval languages and theology, cats, tigers, etc.) none hold a candle to her passion for horses. She finds that horses are far-more intelligent, compassionate and kind than 99% of the people she meets. Mare's career is fascinating, if nothing else: in 2011, she served as Editor of a beautiful history book, The Purebred Arabian Horses of Iraq: Myths and Realities by Dr. Mohammad bin 'Abdul-'Aziz Al Nujaifi. She's contributed to several international horse racing publications, including Al Badia, Arabian Finish Line, Desert Mirage and Galopp Magasinet.
She's the Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of f!lly Magazine-- the magazine by, for and about women in horse racing. f!lly will debut in 2013. Both Thoroughbred and Arabian racing--and women, f!llies and mare from all around the world--will be featured in the full-color, beautiful, historic publication. Magazines are the first of the media M.E. wishes to tackle: she's also writing a screenplay, and seeks the perfect venue and producer for her horse racing radio show. She's got the voice; God knows, she has opinions--she feels led to put them together and broadcast to the 51% of the racing fan base that's too-often been overlooked. (Hint: 51%...could it be, women?)
An Alumna of Mount Holyoke College, Mare hopes to use these media, including her blog here at, to encourage women and girls to find their vocations in horse racing and to help make the world a more loving and nurturing place for all equines. When asked to identify her Mentor, the woman who encouraged her to follow her bliss, Mare names the great Penny Chenery. Through these various media projects, Mare hopes to do for other females what Ms. Chenery did for her--open doors, encourage and bless.


Thoroughbred Racing in Saratoga

The Thoroughbred is a distinct, created breed of horse. Saratoga Springs, New York is a unique, pristine city in Upstate New York.

Put the two together, Thoroughbreds and Saratoga, and you have America's most prestigious, lushly beautiful and important racing meet. For six weeks every summer, the world's best horses, jockeys and trainers come together to compete for trophies, cash and fame.

In this blog, we'll discover All Things Thoroughbred and the lovely international community of horsepeople, both professionals and fans, alike who set up camp in this city. Some come for six weeks, only. Others are here from April through November every year, when the Oklahoma's open. Yet others trek to town to race their mighty steeds—then fall in love with the place; buy a home and move here.

The Saratoga racing family of humans and horses is a year-round endeavour. You think that all the horses all go elsewhere after Labor Day? Then this blog is for you, too.

(Is the reference, "the Oklahoma" lost on you? Stay tuned, you'll feel like a pro in no time.)

Welcome to the only experience on Earth that can boast of such otherworldly beauty and heart-stopping thrills, all in the same breath: Thoroughbred racing in Saratoga.