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Animal advocates outraged: Days into track season, 7 horses dead for 2017

Animal advocates outraged: Days into track season, 7 horses dead for 2017 (WRGB)

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY (WRGB)--Animal advocates are outraged by the number of horse deaths at Saratoga Race Course this year.

Seven horses have died so far this year around the summer meet.

The New York State Gaming Commission says five of the horses died during training, the others passed away from race injuries.

As tens of thousands of people flock here to watch and bet. Patrick Battuello is keeping count.

“To me, that’s the greatest obscenity surrounding horse racing, it being called a sport,” Battuello said.

Every time a horse dies at Saratoga, he blogs about it on his website called Horseracing Wrongs.

“There's always promises things are going to get better and they really don’t,” Battuello said.

According to the NYS Gaming Commission, five horses have died at Saratoga in 12 days since the season started. That's about one death for every two days of the meet. Two other horses died in training at Saratoga before the track season started.

Most of the horses that died this year were euthanized for leg fractures.

According to the commission's website, 16 horses died at Saratoga in 2016, and 13 died in 2015

The New York Racing Association, which operates Saratoga Race Course, declined our request for an on-camera interview Wednesday.

In a emailed statement, the NYS Gaming Commission wrote saying, NYRA “is consistently below the national average of racing fatalities."

The e-mailed statement said in part we "continue to identify risk factors, circumstances and trends that may contribute to equine fatalities."

Battuello says he feels no action has been taken to stop horses from dying.

“My question to them is what’s an acceptable number? Are you telling me there's an acceptable death ratio for horses?”

When CBS 6 posted about the horse fatalities, our Facebook page was flooded with messages from viewers saying they believe horse racing is a form of animal cruelty.

We also spoke to fans supporting the track, who told us they believe the horses are well-cared for and are born to run.

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