I have in the past been critical of the Los Angeles Times for its coverage (or lack thereof) of some of the more sordid aspects of horseracing. Lately, though, things have improved, as evidenced by a board editorial two days ago: “Fewer racehorses are dying — but still too many.” While the numbers they use do not tell the whole story (no stall deaths), and despite their continued use of the word “spate” (it wasn’t) for the Santa Anita ’19 spring meet, I was heartened by the board’s broader view:
“Of course, tracks can and should be more vigilant to make sure trainers and vets are complying with all the rules. But there is an inherent risk when a 1,100-pound animal runs nearly 40 mph on relatively small feet and lean legs. That risk can’t be reformed out of existence.”
Dr. Rick Arthur, equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Board (and someone whom I’ve also been critical of), was even more stark:
“Racing is always going to be dangerous for horses. They are high-speed. They race at the limit of their ability like Formula One cars.” (Except they’re not like cars at all, are they, Dr. Arthur? Quick review: Horses are fully sentient beings – intelligent, aware, sensitive, loving, affectionate, the capacity and desire for pleasure, the capacity for and aversion to pain and suffering. Cars are not. Full stop.)
The editorial ended thus: “If track owners and trainers want to keep racing horses, then they need to keep them from dying in the process.”
Last year, in an extraordinary editorial, The Washington Post called for an outright end to horseracing. Now, if we read between the lines (re-read the above quotes; follow the logic), it appears the LA Times is on the cusp of doing the same. Imagine that.
(full editorial here)