In California-racing’s most recent fiscal year (7/1/12-6/30/13), 209 racehorses perished – 90 racing, 56 training, and 63 other (gastro-intestinal, respiratory, etc.). Because this represents a decrease from the previous year (278), the California Horse Racing Board is feeling pretty good about itself. Equine medical director Dr. Rick Arthur: “It was a good year. All the efforts we’ve undertaken…I think it’s paid off.” The cheery report, however, conveniently omits the number of California’s “retired” who were auctioned and, ultimately, slaughtered, not to mention the rescued who were eventually euthanized due to old racing wounds. This is a time for back-slapping, not harsh truths.
To the horse people, 90 raceday breakdowns (which, by the way, remained roughly unchanged from ’11-’12) weighed against thousands of starts qualifies as some sort of victory, revealing again how morally bankrupt this industry truly is: 90, no, 209 intelligent, sentient beings were sacrificed not for some (what was once thought) noble cause – carrying soldiers or settling a continent – but for $2 bets and pieces of silver. Progress, Dr. Arthur? More like disgrace. And when fatalities rise again – which they will, unless racing continues to contract – what will you say then?