N.Y. State Police Arrest Harness Trainer for Violent Beating Resulting in a Horse’s Death

For Immediate Release:
January 30, 2024

David Perle 202-483-7382

Pine Bush, N.Y.

Today, New York State Police informed PETA that they’ve arrested a harness racing trainer for allegedly beating a horse so violently that the animal had to be euthanized. Trainer Frederick Bourgault was reportedly angry at the horse, Finish Line, for accidentally stepping on his foot. Bourgault has been charged with interference with or injury to certain domestic animals and criminal mischief in the second degree, both felonies.

The incident took place in mid-July of last year at Pine Bush Training Facility. PETA was informed of the alleged beating by a whistleblower and immediately contacted the police.

Bourgault, who has raced at Tioga Downs and Monticello Raceway, was suspended by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario in 2020 for beating a horse who placed fifth in a race. He has a long history of violations in New York state and has been fined and/or suspended for kicking horses and for excessive use of the whip. In 2022, the New York State Gaming Commission fined Bourgault for whipping a horse after a race and directed him to take an anger management course. But in April 2023, Bourgault was again fined for excessive whipping.

PETA wants to know why the gaming commission and tracks have still allowed Bourgault, with his documented history of violence and violations, to continue racing and why New Yorkers are forced to support the harness racing industry with $100 million in subsidies every year.

“Bourgault is a repeat offender who should have been booted from racing years ago and banned the first time he whipped a horse after a race was over,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “PETA is grateful to the New York State Police for taking swift action but not to the gaming commission for allowing this man to keep racing.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any way”—points out that Every Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kits for people who need a lesson in kindness. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, or Instagram.

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