Even having been at this for years, the racing industry’s capacity for tone-deafness continues to astound me. A Daily Racing Form (DRF) article from Tuesday is a perfect example. The piece is meant to celebrate the Standardbred Dream Out Loud N. But along with feel-good facts like he’s “a Down Under import” and a “$1 million earner,” the DRF presents his advanced (for racing) age – 14 – as something to fete. To the rational, objective observer, however, it’s nothing of the sort. That’s 14 years of unremitting servitude and all that that entails (confinement, drugging, whipping, etc.)
But even worse is the article’s central topic and its blithesome treatment thereof: “The gelding also owns the odd distinction of being claimed nine straight starts as a 14-year-old. While 14-year-olds do get claimed…seeing any horse claimed nine straight times is somewhat rare. So what is so special about Dream Out Loud N?”
Attaching the word “special” to the cruelty of being incessantly – nine straight races – bought and sold is, in a word, vile. Come to think of it, perhaps tone-deaf is too generous. In any event, one of Dream’s many trainers, Brandon Presto, admits what we can all easily infer about a 14-year-old racehorse: “He has some old injuries but he tries hard and overcomes them.” That’s right, push through that pain, Dream.
There was, still, an even blunter truth offered by another of Dream’s trainers, Scott Davidson. In decrying the fact that claimed horses are no longer required to “move up in class” next race out, Davidson says: “It becomes like a rent-a-horse and some people don’t take care of the horses because they know they will get claimed next week.” Shocking, huh? (By the way, this would be the commodification I talk about in “The Inevitability of Dead Racehorses.”)
Davidson also confirms something else we all know to be true. Looking ahead to the end of Dream’s “career,” the trainer worries: “I don’t have a lot of money, but if something happens that he is done racing, I hope he finds a nice home because he is a really good horse. As long as I have him, he won’t end up in a bad spot, but sometimes that does happen and I’d hate to see that happen to him.” He’s talking about slaughter (or the Amish, or neglect and starvation), folks.
(Dream Out Loud N was due to race Thursday at The Meadows but was “scratched.” Must have been some of those “old injuries” rearing their ugly heads.)