Why We Do What We Do: “I stopped wagering three years ago. I stopped watching last year.”

Churchill’s recent kill cluster, and the media whirlwind that followed, has given rise to much soul-searching, which in the final analysis, is all we ask. One of the more noteworthy examples is an opinion piece by Joseph Gerth of the Louisville Courier-Journal: “I used to love the Kentucky Derby, but horse deaths have caused me to hate racing.” Well worth the full read, but here are some excerpts:

“I know the arguments for these horses, that they wouldn’t even exist if we weren’t breeding them to run in races; or conversely, if they weren’t in races, they would be running in fields with holes in the ground and snapping bones in those pencil-thin legs. I get it and don’t care. It’s a brutal sport and I really don’t want to watch.

“Now when I watch a horse race, I don’t root for the horses in an exacta box to finish first and second. I root for them to make it to the barn alive, and I hold my breath as they thunder down the stretch. My grandparents saw it differently. They loved it for the sport. I just hate it for the death.”

Then this. Monday, I was a guest on The Dan Le Batard Show, the nation’s #1 sports podcast, with a daily audience of 1 million+. Afterward, I received numerous emails of support. One, however, stood out. With the writer’s permission, I reproduce it here:

“Patrick, I just listened to your segment on The Dan Le Batard Show yesterday and it truly reached me. I have been a horseracing fan my entire adult life but the increased reports of deaths of these animals in the past few years disturbed me. I stopped wagering three years ago. I stopped watching last year. It doesn’t feel like it’s enough just to turn away. 

“After listening to your segment, I immediately went to your site and learned even more horrifying details. My stomach lurched. But I am glad I informed myself because it will allow me to engage my more thoughtful friends on the dangers of this sport. 

“I do a small bit of business in Wellington, FL, where sprawling estates for polo, dressage and equestrian horses are buttressed by an executive airfield for the horse-owning elite. I would often justify my fandom of horseracing based on the lavish treatments these horses receive. One client I have keeps a full-time horse masseuse on property, year round. Surely – I convinced myself, a sport so concerned with comfort could not be so cruel. I was wrong.  

“Your work is important. It opened my eyes and I hope you continue this mission to open hearts. I will support as much as I can, whenever I can. Thank you for the work you are doing and for taking the time to educate apes like myself out there. Appreciatively, Bobby Brown.”

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One comment

  1. Thank you so much, Bobby, for your compassion for the horses and for reaching out to us. We are happy to have you join this amazing community of supporters and join us in the fight to end horseracing!

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