Day: February 27, 2024

The Darker Side of Horse Racing

Behind the romanticized facade of horse racing lies an industry marked by injuries, drug use, breakdowns and slaughter that most spectators never witness first-hand. Although you wouldn’t know it from attending an elegant race meeting and sipping mint juleps while showing off your fancy outfit – animal rights activists and others who believe racing needs serious reform have long taken notice of its “childish” qualities.

Recently, the industry has implemented changes aimed at making racing more transparent; however, progress has been slow, leading to racing’s widespread perception among new would-be fans as unsafe or untrustworthy; as well as losing fans, races, revenue, and entries as a result.

No doubt this can be seen as the result of widespread scandals related to doping and safety in horseracing. Others, perhaps the majority of potential customers, simply no longer wish to wager on horses.

Racing’s primary concern lies in its inability to find an acceptable solution to profit from and exploit animals, something increasingly recognized as unacceptable given that nonhuman animals possess basic rights.

This year’s Derby will take place under a cloud of tragedy that no one is likely to miss: Eight Belles’ death at America’s most iconic race was tragic enough; she is only the latest Thoroughbred horse fatality, following in the footsteps of Creative Plan, Keepthename, and Laoban.

Deaths of these horses prompted an examination of racing ethics and integrity; yet regardless of improvements to industry practices, any horse’s life remains at risk from racing’s exhilarating physical demands and its lucrative for-profit business model.

Despite these risks, horse racing industry representatives continue to assert that it is safe and reputable despite these dangers; however, this claim is deceptive as it’s founded on myth. In reality, horse racing businesses create horses for profit before selling them out as breeding stock or racing horses into endless reincarnations cycles before abandoning responsibility for what may become of these horses once they leave its business.

Horse racing must recognize that all horses possess basic rights and deserve a happy, fulfilling retirement, like Eight Belles and Medina Spirit did under its for-profit system. When this occurs, we can truly call racing a sport rather than just a collection of bloodsports – the future of racing lies with this decision.

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