John Cherwa’s “Racing!” newsletter in the LA Times has come to an end (“business decision,” he’s calling it). In the penultimate edition, he offered his opinion on what needs fixing in racing. Included among things like “get rid of the Rainbow Six,” “free parking at all race tracks all the time,” and “the press box elevator at Del Mar [needs] to work on opening day,” is this:
“Horse racing needs to take a stand against Saudi money. The influence of Saudi money is huge in this sport, but racing doesn’t seem to care about the human rights issues that engulf the region. Lest you forget, they kill journalists and, according to a British court, kidnap and silence family members who speak out. Despite the $20-million price tag, I will never cover the Saudi Cup, even if assigned. Don’t you wish someone in racing would take a stand and say human rights’ principles are more important than a big payday.”
Yes, “take a stand” against the Saudis for human-rights violations, but utterly ignore the fact that the rest of your vile industry abuses other sentient beings as a matter of course – confinement, isolation, drugging, doping, whipping, etc. – and kills by the boatload: between on-track, stall, and the slaughterhouse, we’re talking some 15,000 American racehorses every single year. But by all means, go after the Saudis, Mr. Cherwa. What a (bad) joke.
I’ve often said that the likes of John Cherwa and Joe Drape (NY Times) are more dangerous (to horses, that is) than the Bob Bafferts of the world. Cherwa and Drape are accomplished journalists writing for major publications; they lend respectability to horseracing. What’s more, by being frequent critics of the industry that they in no way wish to see end, they convey to the masses that all that’s needed is a bit of tidying up – that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with breeding, exploiting, and killing horses for gambling. So, good riddance to “Racing!” and bravo to the Times for (though long overdue) bringing this blot to a close.