04/07/2009 12:00AM

Racing board investigating Paragallo's farm

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The New York State Racing and Wagering Board announced Tuesday it was investigating the treatment of horses at New York owner Ernie Paragallo's Center Brook Farm.

Paragallo said late Tuesday that he welcomed the investigation, which arose after seven of his horses were discovered in a paddock at a livestock auction in New York last week. The horses, according to the welfare organizations that bought them out of the pen, were malnourished and were awaiting shipment to a slaughterhouse. Another 13 horses owned by Paragallo, according to the organizations, were sent to slaughter.

"I told them they should do the investigation," Paragallo said. "These are serious allegations. They'd be neglecting their duties if they don't."

Paragallo, whose most famous horse has been Unbridled's Song, a former 2-year-old champion who stands in Kentucky, also said on Tuesday that the board has asked if he wanted to surrender his agent's license in New York. He said he refused.

Paragallo has said he was unaware that the 20 mares were sent to the livestock auction. He had earlier arranged for someone to take the mares free of charge, Paragallo said, and had given free breed-back rights to his New York stallions, thinking that the horses were going to Florida.

Paragallo did say that a driver had called him after picking up the mares to complain that they were "thin," but he also maintained that the driver never informed him that he was taking the horses to the livestock auction. Many horses in livestock auctions are purchased by individuals seeking to resell the horses to slaughterhouses in Canada or Mexico.

In a release, the board said that it had urged the New York State Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund to cease issuing any checks to Center Brook Farm, Paragallo, or his racing stable, Paraneck Stable. The chairman of the racing and wagering board, John D. Sabini, a former state legislator, is a member of the board that directs payments from the development fund.

"I've said all along that there were horses on my farm that were thin," Paragallo said. "If they don't think I'm doing a good job, they can come up and take care of all 140 of my horses and do a better job than me."