As mentioned in this morning’s post, I have been working closely with CNN over the past couple weeks. While a larger piece is still to come, yesterday I was asked for a response to HISA’s statement announcing an “Emergency Veterinary Summit” on the Churchill deaths. My statement was read by CNN’s Nick Watt; the full text is below.
“The recent statement by HISA on the Churchill deaths – at least 12 in 31 days – is the same rhetoric we’ve heard ad nauseum at track after track, in state after state for years now. Each time the industry comes under intense scrutiny for what is perceived to be a spate of killing (Churchill actually averages 25 kills annually), the powers that be come out and promise that nothing is more important than the welfare of their ‘equine athletes,’ that no stone is being left unturned, that in-depth analyses of the dead horses are being conducted, that all safety protocols are being reevaluated, that more vets will be added, drug rules tightened, etc. Then they trot out their supposed track-surface gurus who speak in highly technical language about cushion depth and moisture content. All of it, of course, meant to assuage and reassure the public. And yet, the killing continues.
“Since Horseracing Wrongs began compiling death data in 2014, the numbers have not changed in any meaningful way year over year, especially when considering declining metrics (less racing, less horses, etc.). Truth is, from breeding for speed (massive torsos, spindly legs, fragile ankles), to employing pubescent/adolescent bodies, to the incessant grinding – not to mention commodification – of those bodies, to forcing them to run at an unnatural rate (breakneck), in an unnatural way (in close quarters; among an anxious, artificial herd), and through unnatural means (perched, whip-wielding humans), horseracing guarantees a certain level of killing. Guarantees. We know it. They know it. Anyone who follows racing closely knows it.”