Steve Haskin recently penned an article for Blood-Horse in which he recalls a better time, a Golden Age of American racing, if you will:
“Picture a deep blue sky, a slight late winter’s chill in the air, warmed by the sun, and rows of colorful tulips bringing the first images of the impending spring. Picture a kaleidoscope of familiar colors atop noble steeds who have migrated north with the robins. Picture cigar smoke-filled buses and trains arriving one after another from all parts of the city. Picture people leaving work in the middle of the afternoon to participate in an annual rite of spring.
“Picture all this and you have merely begun to picture opening day at Aqueduct back in the ’60s and ’70s, traditionally held in mid-March each year. New Yorkers every December went into racing hibernation, building up their funds and their unbridled enthusiasm, counting the days when the glorious sport of Thoroughbred racing returned to the Big Apple. With it came the rush of humanity off the train platform headed for the mutuel windows to get down on the Daily Double.”
Although Mr. Haskin goes on to censure today’s industry – the “carnage,” the drug culture – what stands out, yet again, is the self-delusion. These people, especially the grayer ones, really believe this stuff. Racing, to them, can be good, wholesome, benign – for man and horse alike. It is, of course, unmitigated garbage, garbage made all the worse when wrapped in flowery rhetoric, garbage that must be answered each and every time it’s spewed at a mostly naive and ignorant public.
Allow me, Mr. Haskin, to break down your muse to its very core: Horseracing is the exploitation, abuse, and destruction of sentient beings for $2 bets. It’s what it has always been; it’s what it will always be – there is no rehabilitating an inherent wrong. So, Mr. Haskin, don’t act all befuddled as to what to do (“…no one seems to have any answers”), for the solution is as plain as one of today’s shattered cannon bones: Cease and desist. Find another line of work, another hobby, another human endeavor to wax poetic about. Your “glorious sport” kills horses.