By Ray Paulick
There is no disputing that a number of under-nourished and lice infested horses bred and formerly raced by Paraneck Stables were rescued from a kill pen at a New York livestock auction last month, but there are conflicting statements on the path those horses took to get there.

The issue first came to the attention of the Paulick Report Thursday when a reader alerted us to a posting on the
Another Chance 4 Horses web site, detailing the condition of four mares the Pennsylvania-based rescue and rehabilitation facility acquired at a New York sale last month. Most of the mares had been bred and all were formerly raced by Paraneck, one of New York's leading racing stables, run by Ernie Paragallo and licensed in the names of his daughters. They were part of a larger group of 24 horses sent to the auction, most of which were subsequently transported to a slaughter facility in Canada.

Paragallo, described on the
National Thoroughbred Racing Association web site as an investment banker and computer software executive, raced the champion sprinter Artax and Kentucky Derby favorite Unbridled's Song (now a leading stallion in Kentucky), and his stable is represented by Cellar Dweller in Saturday's $750,000 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, a major prep for the Kentucky Derby. Paraneck has previously been ranked as the leading owner in New York.

After the link to the Another Chance 4 Horses appeal for help was posted on the Paulick Report, several Internet forums began discussing the plight of the horses.
Paragallo himself posted two messages on the Thoroughbred Champions forum, indicating he had given away the horses to an unnamed Florida breeder in December. The breeder promised to breed the mares to Paraneck stallions, giving Paragallo the opportunity to receive future stallion awards, he wrote.

“This was a home run for my business; we were going to move 60 horses that had limited value to us and were going to get the added benefits of having the mares bred back to our stallions and we had the potential to earn stallion awards for their offspring,” Paragallo wrote on the forum and later repeated in a telephone interview with the Paulick Report.

Paragallo said he didn't have the name of the Florida breeder and was unaware of what happened to the horses after he said a van picked them up in December at his Center Brook Farm in Climax, N.Y., located approximately 130 miles north of New York City.

That doesn't jibe with what Richard Baiardi told the Paulick Report. Baiardi, who transports and re-sells horses across the United States, said he had talked with Paragallo about taking the horses but that he picked them up at Center Brook Farm much later than December. “I don't have the exact date,” he told the Paulick Report as he was driving his van through North Dakota on Friday. “But I can tell you one thing: it wasn't in December. You can call the horse sale and find out what day they arrived, and that's the day I picked them up.” Baiardi said he has van logs and other documentation to account for the date he picked the horses up at Center Brook.

When asked  later about the discrepancy in dates, Paragallo hedged, saying he couldn't be certain the horses left his farm in December.

According to Another Chance 4 Horses, the Paraneck mares were on the auction grounds in a feed pen for a couple weeks before they were rescued.

“I was going to take them to Florida and sell them,” Baiardi said, “but when I saw how bad a condition they were in, I said, 'I'm not taking them horses anywhere.'”

Baiardi was concerned he might face consequences from agriculture inspectors as he crossed state lines because of the condition of the horses. “I said they're not getting me for this crap. I called Ernie and said, 'Ernie what the hell happened to these frikkin' horses?' I had seen them in the summer and they were nice and fat. I told him,'These sonofabitches are walking skeletons.' Ernie said, 'I'm sending 600 bales of hay a week.' He was pissed and said he was going to send somebody out there to the farm.”

Paragallo disputes the horses were malnourished or had open wounds and that the infestation of lice must have occurred after the horses left his farm. 

“We keep our barren mares on the light side,” Paragallo told the Paulick Report. “They're out in big fields, about 80 acres. We used to give them big round bales, but you can't get those in New York anymore, so we feed the equivalent of half a regular bale to each horse per day; the horses are getting between 22 1/2 and 25 pounds per day. Some of those horses might get their ass kicked and are a little skinnier. We don't check them every day.”

““He may have thought he was sending hay, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone wasn't pocketing the money,” Bairadi said. “I don't know who. But if those horses were in decent shape, I would've taken them to Florida.”

Why didn't Bairadi leave the horses at Center Brook?

“My nephew is with me right now, and he said the guy at the farm told him they had two die there that morning,” Bairadi said. “He said if I didn't take the horses, 'They'll die and we'll bury 'em.' I think Ernie's just got too many horses, and you can't be in two places at one time. You try to leave everything on the shoulder of one person at the farm, and things do happen.”

Paragallo said he has approximately 225 horses, including 80 broodmares. He defended the staff at his farm, saying some of them “were crying when I told them what happened to the horses.”

According to Christy Sheidy, co-founder of Another Chance 4 Horses, Paragallo has offered to pay the veterinary bills the operation incurred.

“We pulled blood and did fecal samples on the horses,” Sheidy said. “This kind of neglect doesn't happen overnight, or in three weeks or even two months. The vet reports shouldn't have been as bad as they were.”

Sheidy said she received a phone call from Paragallo's former girl friend, Jennifer Pedersen, who trained many of the horses in question. “She was absolutely distraught, very upset about this,” Sheidy said.

Paragallo is also upset, saying this was the second time he'd “been screwed” after giving horses away. “I'm not too happy about this at all,” he said. “I have horses on my farm that I've had for 18 years that have never done anything. I don't believe in sending them to the killers.”

here if you'd like to find out how you can help the Another Chance 4 Horses organization.

Copyright © 2009, The Paulick Report 

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