On its website, the Grand National Steeplechase – a one-day event held every April in Maryland – “encourages picnicking,” with “pop-up tents” and all. On its website, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation – yes, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation – says: “Join the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for a true Maryland tradition, the 117th running of the Grand National Steeplechase. Enjoy a beautiful day in Baltimore County’s horse country with a classic picnic buffet, signature ‘Southside’ cocktails, live music, and the best view of the Grand National Steeplechase course. It is the perfect occasion to take in an amazing spring day and the excitement of steeplechase racing!”
A true family affair, this Grand National – hot dogs and ice cream for the kids, drinks and tunes for the moms and dads. Alas, though, yesterday’s entertainment also included the live death of a sentient being. In the 1st race – “Three And One Fourth Miles On The Timber” – Ardrahan, according to Equibase, “fell landing [at or on] the second-last fence and was euthanized.” In fact, of the 11 horses who began that race, only five finished, with a few of those who did not also hitting fences, one “hard.”
Look, I fully understand “tradition.” But when said tradition is exposed for what it is – animal exploitation, animal cruelty, and, often, animal killing – there is no longer any excuse. If you attend, bet on, or in any way patronize horseracing, you make days like yesterday possible. Ardrahan is dead, uncomfortable though this may be, because of the good people – including, shamefully, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation – who turned out in Butler, Maryland, yesterday. And that’s about the size of it.