At the International Conference of Horseracing Authorities in Paris October 7, these statements from Dr. Rick Arthur, equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Board (my comments in bold):
“Social ethics toward animal use have changed dramatically during the lives of everyone in this room. Horseracing must adapt to meet society’s changing ethical standards or it will not survive.”
Yes, “dramatic” it has been – Ringling, SeaWorld, dogracing, fur, veganism ascending, etc. As to the second, there’s no re-framing the exploitation, abuse, and killing of horses for $2 bets; it is what it is, and America is on to you.
“There is a real risk that in California, the fifth-largest economy in the world, and in many ways, an international trend-setter, racing could end.”
“Could” – no, will.
“The status quo is not good enough…horse safety…must be our number one priority, even before winning.”
So, horse safety wasn’t your number one priority prior to your current crisis?
“Worldwide, that [fatalities] is a very large number of horses. Many of you in this room, and this isn’t a criticism, are a step away from the flesh and blood of these fatalities. I’ve been there. Many of these fatalities are ugly, very ugly.”
“That is a very large number of horses” – at last, someone from within not hiding behind a sterile, misleading ratio; “ugly, very ugly” – indeed.
“The result [of claiming races] is a culture where horses tend to be treated as commodities…the U.S. racing business model amplifies that.”
Commodities, chattel, things, assets to be expended and trashed. Exactly.
“[During Santa Anita] the racing press understood that there is a normal fatality rate in horseracing; the non-racing press and public did not.”
Can there be a more powerful (self) indictment of this horrid industry? Yes, we know a certain number of horses will die – and we do it anyway.
“For anti-racing animal-rights advocates, the Santa Anita racing tragedy is the opportunity they’ve been waiting for. They are not letting up. Animal-rights activists are making sure that the internet, print and electronic media, and elected officials are aware of each and every racing fatality.”
ABSOLUTELY. We’ve only just begun.
But Dr. Arthur saved his best for last:
“There are those who argue that whipping doesn’t hurt horses, but that’s nonsense, and we all know that. Whips are noxious stimuli; they hurt, that’s why they’re used. Run fast or I’ll hit you again.”
After a century of lies – that whips are but harmless guides; that a horse’s thick hide precludes any unpleasantness; that they’re really just responding to the sound; that whips are not even whips, they’re “crops” – the chief vet of California Racing, and perhaps the most high-profile in the nation, comes clean: “Whips are noxious stimuli; they hurt, that’s why they’re used. Run fast or I’ll hit you again.”
The prosecution rests.