It has long been the prevailing wisdom of those familiar with this hideous industry that thousands of “retired” Thoroughbreds end up brutally slaughtered in abattoirs north and south of these united states each year. Having written extensively on this issue, I believe that it is in fact a majority. Yes, a majority. But until now, I had yet to see anyone closely associated with racing go on the record with a number. Then this in yesterday’s Daily Gazette, in an article about “Thoroughbred aftercare”:
“This is a particularly cogent point when considering numbers Dr. [Patricia] Hogan – one of the most prominent equine veterinarians in the U.S., and [someone who] works closely with the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association – cited with regard to horse slaughter for human consumption. Despite laws banning it in the U.S., horses still make their way to abattoirs in Canada and Mexico. While foal crops these days number around 20,000 per year, 10,000-12,000 off-the-track thoroughbreds are vanned across borders to be slaughtered.”
In prior posts I have cited a Wild for Life Foundation study that estimated that 19% of the American horses slaughtered each year are Thoroughbreds. According to the Equine Welfare Alliance, 114,091 U.S. horses were slaughtered in 2016. 19% of that is roughly 21,000 (Thoroughbreds only, not including Quarterhorses and Standardbreds). Obviously, 21,000 is far greater than Ms. Hogan’s 10,000-12,000. But is there a meaningful difference, the kind of difference that would make one say, that’s a whole other story? Of course not. The story here, the big, bold, screaming headline here, is that thousands – multiple thousands – of used-up “equine athletes” are being bled-out and butchered – after, that is, enduring terrifying treks across our borders – every single year. Racing’s dirty, blood-drenched little secret.
So remember this the next time someone says that an afternoon at the track is but an innocuous passing of time – good, clean, family fun. All actions have consequences, and the consequence of $2 bets, admission tickets, and pulls of racino slots is killing, is carnage. In a word, it’s unconscionable.