Friday, April 10, 2009

House of Paragallo continues to crumble

Update: According to published reports, Ernie Paragallo was charged today with 22 counts of cruelty to animals and arraigned in the town of Coxsackie, N.Y. All counts are misdemeanors. He faces, potentially, a year in prison and $1,000 fine on each count.

The New York Racing Association has barred the suddenly contrite Ernie Paragallo, who yesterday was in the process of surrendering his authorized agent license to the Racing and Wagering Board, from access to all areas of its racetracks except those open to the general public and will not accept entries from Paraneck Stable, which is owned by two of his daughters, until a suitable agent is named.

The moves follows seizure of 177 horses, all suffering from malnutrition in various stages, at Paragallo’s upstate farm in what may be the most egregious case of animal abuse in the state’s history.

Paraneck-owned horses, which will not be moved from the grounds and remain in the care of trainer John Campo Jr., may be again permitted to compete at NYRA tracks after the replacement of Paragallo by an authorized agent acceptable to officials. Paragallo has been without an owner’s license since 2005, when his was revoked by state officials for financial irresponsibility. Paragallo’s daughters are expected to name a replacement for their father, who has long been among the most visible figures at NYRA tracks and is widely regarded to be the owner the Paraneck as well as the majority owner of the elite stallion Unbridled’s Song, from whose service he has realized tens of millions of dollars in stud fees over the years and who remains active in Kentucky. Paragallo also owns the New York stallion Artax.

"We're saying we want to see somebody who is not a blood relative, somebody who is not a current employee running the affairs of that stable," Hal Handel, NYRA's executive vice president and chief operating officer, told the Daily Racing Form.

While facing the very real possibility of criminal charges for abuse of animals and a meeting today with State Police, Paragallo, who admits only to poor management of the upstate farm, vowed to take an active role in rectifying the situation.

"All of them are going to be big and fat and good looking again," he told the Albany Times-Union. "I will give an open invitation to anyone who wants to come and see my horses and see that they are in good shape. I am sorry that this happened."

It remains impossible, however, to consider Paragallo’s apologetic remarks as anything except eyewash or to accept the veracity of his claims of ignorance of the condition at his farm, where several horses were rescued in 2007 and several more in February of this year. A horse reportedly died there yesterday.

Sorry, Ernie. Nice try. -- PM

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