Skip That Trip to the Racetrack this Summer
This year marks the 150th anniversary of Thoroughbred racing at Saratoga. And, in true Saratoga fashion, the party has begun, with abounding flare and style! All of the businesses that will benefit from the party goers — the hotels, the jewelry stores, and boutiques that sell $300 designer hats — should send a big thank you to the horses. Unfortunately, as always, this won’t be the case.This “Sport of Kings” continues to race juvenile horses, some of whom are barely two years old. Because of the use of stinging whips, horses will be forced to run at top speeds on fragile, underdeveloped bones and joints. They will suffer leg injuries which will be treated with cortisone injections to kill the pain, but eventually destroy their bones, thus leaving them vulnerable to a catastrophic breakdown. And cortisone is only one “routine drug” injected in racehorses. It has been documented that 118 different drugs have been used on racehorses.
For many of the young horses who will race this year, their finish line will be a slaughter house in Canada or Mexico. To get there, they will be crammed into a truck and driven for long hours with no breaks for food or water. Upon arrival at the slaughter house, the horses are led into the “stunning area,” where they will hear the vocalization of other horses in front of them, making them nervous and unmanageable. They will be struck, often many times, with a “Captive Bolt,” which often does not render them unconscious, and thus, many are left conscious as they are shackled upside down and butchered. It has been documented that the skulls of many horses had numerous holes in them from this so-called “humane” method.
In a recent interview with Bo Derek, the famous horse trainer, Roger Stein, said, “There’s a very real need for the disposal of horses that no longer have any chance of being an asset … they are liabilities.”
Unfortunately, Stein is not the only trainer or owner with this mindset.
A state-by-state survey shows that some 3,600 horses died while racing or training at state-regulated tracks over the last three years. In addition, a study published by the U.S. government and the Jockey Club revealed that the number of horses going to slaughter yearly is equal to 70% of the thoroughbred foals born annually. If the racing industry took the necessary steps to lesson its injury rates by not racing two-year-olds, there would be fewer horses who are “liabilities” when they are three-year-olds. Also, if the injury rates were reduced, fewer foals would need to be bred to replace those “liabilities.”
The abuse that our equine athletes suffer in the racing industry during their lives is unacceptable, and to condemn them to a horrific death of slaughter is unspeakable.
New York State Humane Association Humane Review, Vol.XXVII, No.1, Spring/Summer 2013.