Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced that on Tuesday, January 30, Frederick Bourgault, 26, of Canada, was arraigned on an indictment charging him with two felonies in connection with the beating death of a racehorse on July 17, 2023, at the Pine Bush Training Facility in the Town of Crawford.
The indictment charges Bourgault with Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree for having “damaged” a racehorse named “Finish Line,” that had an estimated value of at least five thousand dollars. It is alleged that Bourgault struck the horse with a hard object causing a linear depressed skull fracture, which resulted in the horse having to be euthanized. The indictment also charges Bourgault with the felony of Interference with or Injury to Certain Domestic Animals, a felony under the New York State Agriculture and Markets Act, for willfully and unjustifiably injuring or destroying a racehorse.
“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,” Kathy Guillermo, Senior Vice President of People for Ethical Treatment of Animals. “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.”
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.
The New York State Police, aided by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and New York State Gaming Commission, were engaged in an investigation into the death of the horse. The investigation included having the horse’s remains exhumed and examined by experts at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. The New York State Gaming Commission provided expert witnesses and assisted in coordinating the arrest of Bourgault by the New York State Police. The case was presented to an Orange County Grand Jury, which charged Bourgault with the two felonies prior to him being arrested.
Bourgault, a Canadian national, was arraigned in Orange County Court before County Court Judge Richard Guertin. Neither of the felonies with which Bourgault has been charged are eligible for bail to be set based upon New York’s recent bail reform legislation. Upon the District Attorney’s application, the Court ordered that Bourgault’s passport be held by the Court pending further proceedings. Hoovler thanked the New York State Police for their investigation and the arrest of Bourgault, and the New York State Gaming Commission for their assistance and support of the arrest and prosecution.
“As a society we cannot tolerate the mistreatment of horses or other animals, who cannot protect themselves,” said Hoovler. “Animal abuse cases are a high priority in my Office, and we will continue to work with the New York State Police, and our other law enforcement partners, to protect animals from abuse. We will use all of the legal resources available to us to conduct these investigations and prosecutions and bring these offenders to justice.”
“The New York State Gaming Commission is proud to partner with the Orange County District Attorney and the New York State Police in holding Mr. Bourgault accountable for his actions,” said Sarah Klein, Director of the Gaming Commission’s Division of Horse Racing. “It’s through these combined regulatory, veterinary, investigative and prosecutorial efforts that we’re able to protect horses and get bad actors out of New York State. We look forward to our continued partnership.”
The case is being prosecuted by Chief Assistant District Attorney Christopher P. Borek.
Horseracing Wrongs, a not-for-profit organization “committed to ending the cruel and deadly horseracing industry in the United States,” says the problem is widespread in the industry, with 95 racehorses killed in New York State alone in 2023.
“The citizens of New York State have no idea about the death of an average of about 100 horses each year, let alone the daily cruelty involved in horseracing - unless it’s exposed,” said Nicole Arciello, Executive Director of Horseracing Wrongs. “Yes, the Gaming Commission has a database, but there is no general public knowledge that it exists, or instructions on how to use it. There is no disclaimer at the betting window, no link on betting apps, no running tally at the gates of Saratoga or Belmont.”