Signs of Progress

While I was skeptical at first – having frustratingly seen the media’s attention come and go over the years – it is clear now that when that final history is written, Santa Anita will go down as the tipping point, the moment when Racing truly began its inexorable slide toward oblivion. Here are three of the latest indications of that slide…

In a board editorial last Thursday from the Los Angeles Times – a paper that hasn’t exactly been sympathetic to our cause – this:

“A total of 38 horses died at Santa Anita in the past year [it’s actually 44, as the paper conveniently ignored the six who perished back in their stalls]. Even with more vigilance and more veterinarians on site and the new drug reforms instituted during the course of the year, the deaths continued. … If things don’t change [which, of course, they won’t] …if death from racing cannot be made rare, the question that will loom large is whether the sport should continue at all.”

Same day, from the pro-racing publication Horse Racing Nation:

“[ESPN] once went all-out on horse racing, too, especially when [it] aired major races plus a half-hour weekly recap with interviews and replays.” But now, “ESPN afforded horse racing all of five good seconds, give or take, in a highlights package from the sports decade just ended.” And then this: “It’s not good when the only horse-racing item crawling across your TV set concerns equine fatalities, fueling the fire of the Carry Nations [had to look that up!] who would shut down the sport.”

And finally, in an open letter the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association complains bitterly about Churchill Downs (the corporation, not the track) showing dwindling interest in horseracing. Preferring the much-more-lucrative casino gaming – Churchill is, after all, a publicly traded company – the future of Churchill-owned Arlington Park is very much in question; hence, the handwringing:

“[In] Illinois – as elsewhere in the country, from Hollywood Park to Calder Race Course – Churchill is rapidly abandoning any meaningful commitment to racing. Churchill, in its unconditional pursuit of corporate profit, has worked methodically to reduce the scope of live racing, diminish overnight purses and undermine the efforts of thoroughbred owners and trainers….”

Progress. Every day.

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  1. Excellent!!! Let the gamblers lose their money on machines not horses lives!! Even just reading these articles should scare many of these people in scaling back and rethinking continuing racing!

    “I support Horseracing” group stands out front of Santa Anita holding a sign saying what is going to happen to the 6000 jobs. Oh, Santa Anita has 6000 people employed?? So we should continue the killing sport to keep people employed?
    How about major corporations that have shut down and those people losing their jobs? They go somewhere else for employment. Their argument is that these people are unemployable. Pathetic.

  2. For the Stronach Group to withdraw and not be so supportive of some of these tracks and racing speaks volumes.

    Santa Anita’s plight is what is going to happen to the 2000 horses there when they close. How about the 2000 that have died. Doug ONeil has his lackeys out front holding signs to support his salary. Even hosts barbecues to rally support.

    Get over yourself Doug. Better start looking for a new job.

    Great job Patrick, let’s keep going…

  3. THIS is the most wonderful news I have heard & the reason for these “signs of progress” are ABSOLUTELY BECAUSE OF YOU & YOUR TEAM PATRICK. Keep up the amazing work you are doing & one by one by one thoroughbred breeding farms will be hopefully turned into museums FROM THE PAST. I think in 3-5 years ( praying for the 3), I think your team will get the job done, as you watch the public dwindling at the races & the amounts of people that are getting on your kill racing train is WONDERFUL TO SEE & I have seen more & more comments on your daily articles – YOU ARE MAKING HUGE STRIDES TO END RACING, the best thing people can do is SHARE YOUR ARTICLES ON EVERY SITE THEY CAN COPY & PASTE OR CLICK THE BUTTONS JUST BELOW THE ARTICLES TO SHARE ON FB, TWITTER & OTHER SITES. so if every peraon that comments will SHARE ON AT LEAST 2-5 PAGES PR DAY on their other social media pages , I think you are going to me “THE MAN THAT KILLED HORSE RACING”.
    the RACING INSIDERS WILL go down with their REFUSAL SHIP TO TAKE THOSE HORSES OFF THE DRUGS THAT ALLOW THEM TO RACE BEYOND THEIR bodies normal limitations with the pain killers, steroid injections, lasix ( death in a syringe), the veterinarians REFUSE to stop giving these killers to the horses & any “change” in drug rules, is simply a technicality of word jumbles, they think we are stupid, these horses are running on COPIOUS AMOUNTS OF DRUGS, 2 bute tablets can make a 1000 lb horse appear perfectly sound , when it was NOTICEABLY LIMPING within 72 hours of giving those bute injections/tablets, etc…. & that is just ONE of the deadliest drugs they will NEVER concede to taking away, same as lasix, same as joint injections, so it IS THE INSIDERS, mainly the TRAINERS & VETS & OF COURSE THE UPSTAIRS STEWARDS WHO hide the facts “behind closed door” meetings that these horses are being murdered by THEM – WHEN ALL they have to do to save their “sport” & bring the kill list waaay down is INSTALL A ZERO DRUG TOLERANCE NATION-WIDE RULE- ZERO DRUGS, NO JOINT INJECTIONS WITHIN 6 MONTHS OF A WORKOUT OR RACE & THEIR WORLD COULD BE SAVED. the horses would be able to feel their pain & pull themselves up when their bodies tell them they are hurting. where it stands now, they can’t feel the pain they are in & horses with such HUGE HEARTS & WILLS TO WIN, when they are so doped, the death tolls will NOT EVER STOP. SHARING , SHARING

  4. After reading about and watching videos about so many horses being killed because of greed for money and no regard for the health and well-being of the horses, it is somewhat refreshing and encouraging to read that there might be an actual end to this horrendous exploitation of horses. There are a lot of people that don’t follow racing often enough to know that there have been untold numbers of horses killed not only on the tracks but also in the slaughterhouses and places in between racing and slaughter due to horseracing. If it had not been for the news coverage on national television regarding the horrendous occurrence of racehorses going down on the racetrack at Santa Anita Park, and had it not been for this group and blog, most of those people unaware of the regularity of racehorses dying and being catastrophically injured and killed on or near racetracks would still be unaware.

    Thank you to all of you for your efforts in speaking out and speaking up for the horses. They don’t deserve to be unloved and treated in such inhumane ways.

  5. Thank-you Patrick for keeping us all informed.
    Historically, the media has been 100% behind horse racing with some scattered articles cropping up about the deaths.
    Then, like the industry, the deaths were quickly dropped to focus on horse racing – back to business as usual.
    The main difference now is that they can’t hide their dirty little secrets, they can’t dispute the horrific facts of racehorses snapping their legs-off and dying in the dirt, in their stalls or on the slaughterhouse floor.
    It’s only been in the last year that the public is finally realizing just how vile this business is.
    So to finally see the media not letting up this time, not back to business as usual, and to finally start getting a moral conscience about racehorses dying and to not want to support it, rather, to expose it.
    It took a lot of effort on behalf of many different entities and approaches to finally get to this point, unfortunately, at the peril of racehorses’s lives.
    I owned shares with Churchill Downs many years ago, when I was an apologist, and I attended 2 shareholder meetings there back around 2000.
    Anyways, even back then the tide was starting to turn against horse racing as the shareholders were making economic decisions every day that was gravely affecting racehorse’s and they didn’t like what was happening to them.
    The costs of doing horse racing business nowadays is astronomical not like the older days because the liability issues are inevitable with such a high risk activity, and the poor racehorses are paying the price.
    The shareholders knew this and there was a changing of the guards on the boards as the old “horseman” were being replaced with economic decisions.
    They were even looking towards getting out of horse racing back then and the only thing that stopped them is their traditional holy grail the Kentucky Derby.
    Now faced with the obvious and only decision to completely divest into casinos and leave horse racing behind is inevitable and I can’t say I blame them strictly from a business perspective because the moral aspect is obvious to most of us except for those who exploit racehorses.
    At the time, we were commissioning a study on how much money they would get if they were to develop Churchill Downs and it was astronomical plus it would be a steady stream of revenue for them.
    This report wasn’t made public.
    It’s ironic and laughable that the “horsemen groups” AKA the whiners AKA the HBPA who relies on the bones, backs, and lives of racehorses to generate their millions in wagering profits via the Interstate Horse Wagering Act, are attacking Churchill Downs stating “it’s unconditional pursuit of corporate profit.”
    Funny coming from people who have an “unconditional pursuit of killing racehorses.”
    Therefore, I will remind the “horsemen” who are really abusers and killers of racehorses that those of us who find this repulsive, which it is, will continue our “unconditional pursuit of shutting you the fuck down.”

    • Love you, Gina:)
      Yeah, they’re done and they know it. Hope all the workers are pursuing alternative employment. As for the owners, trainers, breeders, vets, and so-called regulators/track officials: they’re all free to follow their passion for this blood sport to someplace where it remains legal and “acceptable.”
      Plenty of places where they’ll still be able to find entertainment in the form of animal abuse.

      • Kelly, thanks so much for your dedication and for your courage in standing out there to educate people on the truth about horse racing.
        It’s everybody working together, in tandem, to shut this down.
        The Stronach Group is hell bent on facilitating the widespread pain, suffering and dying despite their “reforms,” which was only in response to public outcry.
        If they really cared about the racehorses than they would have implemented these changes years ago, and in fact, when I tried to do these very things back in 2005 they banned me from their tracks only back then people were not paying attention to all the racehorses dying so reforms were not a priority.
        Nevertheless, In the most recent example today they announced that they will be increasing the money paid out to last place from $350 to $500 at Santa Anita.
        This will have a grave and significant impact on the racehorses because people will enter sore, lame racehorses just to pick up $500 as we’ve seen on other tracks although they claim that this will offset the high cost of workmen’s compensation.
        This newly stamped policy, by The Stronach Group, will only increase the suffering, but since their focus is to increase the number of entries, which will increase their wagering profits this says it all.
        Moreover, while The Stronach Group spends millions, collectively, on these types of changes including hiring very high-priced public relations/crisis management firms they continue to refuse even a 1% mandatory contribution to racehorse aftercare.
        Again, their words, policies and lack of action speaks volumes about them, but everybody in this business is the same as they continue to exploit and kill racehorses.

  6. Churchill Downs is a public company. Therefore, CDI answers to the stockholders, not the horsemen. The goal for stockholders is stock appreciation and/or dividends. Therefore, the management of CDI must do what is best for those that own shares of stock and, obviously, horseracing is not in the best interest of stockholders.

    A few years ago, a racing official told me that the gaming companies would prefer to concentrate on the casinos rather than the tracks because the casinos were more profitable. That hasn’t changed. Our world is PROFIT driven and CDI has proven that to be true. I’m ecstatic that Arlington may bite the dust and those that truly love the horses should feel the same way.

    • I’m surpised at the vitriol of some of the posts on here. I came from Illinois and I worked and raced at Arlington.Park. I have friends racing there now. And I am not ecstatic that it is closing. I thought I was angry and mean. But I couldn’t hold a candle to some of the people who post on here. It takes time to correct situations that have persisted for a century. Have patience. It will all work out for the best one way or another.

  7. Yes, indeed there has been progress, a lot of progress! Thanks to you Patrick, and many others that are fighting the good fight! We will win! There is more good in this world than evil and the Good Will Conquer the evil! Happy New Year Patrick!

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