Two years ago, on Belmont Stakes Day, I posted the following. (For today, which, of course, is this year’s Stakes Day, I have updated the numbers.)
Tuesday, AP sportswriter Stephen Whyno published an article that could just as easily have come from the New York Racing Association’s PR department. He begins: “The home of the Belmont Stakes is laps ahead of other U.S. racetracks when it comes to keeping horses safe. Belmont Park…had some of the fewest horse deaths in the sport. Amid the 26 horse deaths at California’s Santa Anita Park since late December, the Belmont will be run Saturday on a track that national observers say is among the safest and best maintained in the country.”
“Laps ahead of other U.S. racetracks when it comes to keeping horses safe”? “Some of the fewest horse deaths in the sport”? Okay. Here are the kill totals at Belmont over the past five full calendar years.
2016: 39 dead horses
2017: 40 dead horses
2018: 30 dead horses
2019: 44 dead horses
2020: 53 dead horses
That’s an average of over 40 dead “athletes” every year. And this year? Already, just five months in, 22 horses have lost their lives at Belmont Park. Going back to 2009 (the first year for which we have data), the toll is 528. That’s 528 intelligent, sensitive beings sacrificed for $2 bets and the spectacle that is today. For shame, America.