For the second time in less than two months, The Washington Post’s editorial board has decried the U.S. horseracing industry. While the first, back in January, left the door ever so slightly ajar – “Does a sport that gambles with the lives of horses really belong in our world?” – this one, published yesterday, leaves no doubt as to the feelings of this esteemed board: “Horse racing has outlived its time.” My highlights follow. (Note: I spent quite a bit of time with one of their writers Wednesday. I’d like to think the influence of our work, our message, is apparent.)
“IN THE aftermath of federal indictments that charged more than two dozen people in or associated with horse racing in ‘a widespread, corrupt’ doping scheme, the industry rushed to put on a good face. The arrests, said the head of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, show that the system works, and that will have ‘a cleansing effect’ on racing. ‘Let’s face it. It’s like any sport,’ said one leading horse trainer. ‘We’re no different.’
“Let’s be charitable and chalk up such comments to self-delusion, because anyone who thinks horse racing is like any other major sport is lying, ignorant or kidding themselves. No other accepted sport exploits defenseless animals as gambling chips. No other accepted sport tolerates the cruelties that routinely result in the injury and death of these magnificent animals. The rot in horse racing goes deep. It is a sport that has outlived its time.
“That one of those indicted, trainer Jorge Navarro, openly embraced his nickname as the ‘Juice Man,’ speaks volumes about the indifferent attitude of racetrack operators and regulators who allowed the abuses to flourish. That some of the conversations caught on the federal wiretaps are eerily similar to the callous way horses are discussed and discounted on an undercover video taped by PETA in 2014 make clear that for all the talk about the love of horses, they are just commodities that are used and abused until they are sent off to the slaughterhouse.
“Increased attention to the deaths of racehorses, on average nearly 10 horses a week [our data, of course, says it’s five times as many], has shined a spotlight on horse racing’s dark side that is changing public attitudes. Activities involving animals that used to be tolerated — even revered — like circus elephants or killer whale shows ended as people learned of their terrible toll. Horse racing awaits a similar reckoning.”
My heartfelt gratitude, Washington Post. This is bold, courageous, and most important, right. Thank you. Thank you.