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.”