An Apologist’s Kentucky Derby Nightmare

In his latest column on ESPN, Steve Davidowitz frets over the atypically (for racing as a whole) large field size (20) for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby. More specifically, with so many horses jostling for position, Davidowitz imagines a nightmarish pileup and the public backlash that would surely follow:

“I pray to myself every time they open the Derby starting gate that no horse is going to be knocked so badly off stride that he causes a chain reaction of carnage similar to what we sometimes see during the first quarter-mile of the Indianapolis 500. Lord knows, Churchill Downs and all the people who love horse racing do not want to see anything close to something like that. The negative consequences from such a disaster would be the toughest body blow Churchill Downs and the racing industry ever has suffered.”

On this, Davidowitz is exactly right – racing, precarious racing, can ill afford a kill or two on its biggest day of the year. But to those of us paying attention, a breakdown at the Kentucky Derby would just be another among many hundreds that occur each year. While true that California Chrome and the rest are far more valuable than the pedestrian card-fillers we see at most tracks, that value only extends to their humans’ balance sheets. In truth, tomorrow’s golden group is morally indistinguishable from this one.

download (9)

Subscribe and Get Notified of New Posts


  1. It really doesn’t matter to me if a horse is running in the Derby or at a low level track here in Ohio. Every single one of them is valuable, at least in my eyes. The big time earners are percieved as having more value than the horses that struggle, race after race, to “hit the board”. There will be no celebrating in my house on Derby Day. I will ONLY celebrate when racing goes away permanently.

  2. Yep this is horseracing. I have been trying to watch the news and such the last two days, and all they are concerned about is what kind of hats are you seeing (they are ugly hats, really) and they seem only concerned about who the other likes in the race. How about one news personality just saying, “I only hope that they all make it home safe and sound.” But yes, with the big field that are in this race, I just have a bad feeling, that’s all that concerns me. All I want to come out of this race, since there is nothing I, or any of us can do about it at this time, is to hope that they all make it home safe and sound. I have thought long and hard about what I want to say, and once the coffee kicks in, I am sure more thoughts about this whole !@#%! race will come to mind, but for today, I will take care of my own racing statistic – my loving trail-only OTTB, Icountime (Count).

  3. Sandra…so happy to hear of another racing statistic, your beloved Count, that made it out of the killing machine called horseracing alive..bless the both of you!

    I no longer watch ANY race, and I still find it hard to believe I used to love it all…I have a video and DVD library of races to show for it. And something else I find difficult to get my head around are those who openly acknowledge the cruelties and abuses, yet continue to support the industry. They suggest changes and ideas, but seem to not understand that cameras, drug regulations, longer suspensions for violators, etc will not change the culture nor the value system of those in the industry. Again, racing exploits the horse…it is as simple as that. Under the very best of circumstances, it EXPLOITS THE HORSE….and they will always find a way to “cut corners” that benefits their wallets at the expense of the horse’s welfare. Advocates will continue to scramble rescuing horses in desperate need as long as the industry exists.

    And I read the baby Empress of Midway flipped in the gate at the start of the Oaks. I can’t imagine her terror.

  4. Did anyone see Race 7 at Evangeline? A horse fell and jockey was rolled in Race 7. I was hoping to hear if they are ok. Hate seeing stuff like that.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: