Close a Track Over a Few Deaths (or Even a Dozen)? Please. There Are Livelihoods at Stake.

HISA’s statement announcing an “Emergency Summit” on the Churchill deaths was, of course, the same rhetoric we’ve heard ad nauseum for years now. Every time the industry comes under intense scrutiny for what is perceived to be a spate of killing (remember, Churchill averages 25 kills annually; at 12 thus far, right on course), the powers that be come out and reassure that nothing is more important than the welfare of their “athletes,” that no stone is being left unturned, that all safety protocols are being reevaluated, that full necropsies and in-depth analyses of the deaths are being conducted.

They promise more vets for morning training, more thorough pre-race exams, state-of-the-art imaging equipment, closer monitoring of the “at-risk,” tighter drug rules, transparent medical records, continuing ed for trainers, etc. And most prominently, as here, they trot out their track-surface gurus who speak in highly technical language about “cushion depth” and “moisture content.” To the public, it all sounds so very impressive – which is precisely the idea. Meanwhile, the horses continue to die.

As for the “summit” itself, one quote from HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus stood out. On the possibility of suspending racing at Churchill (or anywhere else), Lazarus, according to BloodHorse, would not make such a decision lightly, saying, “There are a lot of people who count on racing to survive for their livelihood.” And there it is: jobs, money. To the racing people, that’s all that really matters.

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  1. As I see it, the problem with horse racing is threefold:

    1. The in-breeding of thoroughbreds over decades and decades has resulted in a much more fragile animal, one that has been bred for speed, but not necessarily strength; the legs are thinner, bone density is more delicate, and the horses, on this point alone, are more susceptible to breakdowns

    2. Given the fragility of the new breed of thoroughbred we see today, I also believe that the training regimen these ‘athletes’ are forced to endure at such a young age contributes greatly to the fatal breakdowns; these horses are simply not able to endure such a punishing schedule of workouts and races considering all the points above – and then, of course, we get to:

    3. The trainers.

    Yes, the trainers. They are all only too well aware of the existing problems with every single horse that enters their barns. The horses are not ready, able, nor are they even capable of a long racing career anymore – so – enter the drugs, the pain masking medications, all sorts of legal and illegal, some non-traceable injections, all designed to make the horse run faster, to push his [or her] limits beyond the poor horse’s capability, all in order to win a race – and if he drops dead, well, there’s always another horse.

    All these factors render the art of handicapping, that is, picking the winner of a race based on the published past performances, virtually useless.

    That’s why I quit betting on the races.
    That’s why I recommend anyone who STILL bets the races -to stop. Like I did!
    That’s why I’ve grown to hate a game that I once enjoyed so much.
    And that’s why – over time, when all the bettors eventfully “see the light”, AND THEY WILL – horse racing – like dog racing – will see it’s last day.

    Me, I’ve bet my last race, and I will never bet on the races again.

    • One of the most major problems is that there is this glaringly unacceptable issue of allowing the foxes to go ahead and guard the chickens as they see fit. The racing industry Commissioners, Stewards and veterinarians are not held ACCOUNTABLE to the laws as they should be. It’s a cesspool of Animal Welfare Codes and Business Conduct Codes violations committed by some of the most morally depraved people of our society.

  2. IF a “man” got paid on a regular basis to beat the crap out of his wife, all the fancy high-tech, highest-priced, state-of-the-art imaging equipment to check out which of her bones were broken and in how many places (for example, one rib broken in three different places) would not be sufficient to stop the abuse and the brutality against the wife. At some point, the ABUSER must be stopped, arrested and punished by law. He should not be continually rewarded with a paycheck to beat up his wife. The same is true of horseracing. Except for the fact that it would be more like a p.o.s. man beating up his children rather than his wife assuming his wife was an adult, because the racing industry people start out with the INHUMANE TREATMENT OF horses at a fraction of EQUINE adulthood.

  3. Patrick, I read that statement the other day….and my Italian hot temper went from zero to a off the charts in a millisecond in a heartbeat. There are literally millions of jobs available…businesses are literally BEGGING for workers to fill openings.

  4. You’re right, Bonnie. It’s wrong that these horse-killing psychos are allowed to be above the law.

  5. Churchill is relocating its spring meet … after this weekend they’ll shift the remaining racing dates 100 miles or so to Ellis Park in Henderson, Kentucky. Anything to deflect attention from the ever-increasing kills at Churchill.

    • True, but they’ve BEEN useless for nearly a full year now. We’ve all seen what kind of results HISA’s “Racetrack Safety” program has netted: NOTHING, except for a(nother) bunch of overpaid, corporate racing executives who are scrambling around in vain, trying to cover up the increase in Thoroughbred kills so they can hang on to their cushy, new quasi-government jobs. Meanwhile, HISA refuses to address racing’s overbreeding/slaughter problem — because, hey, just unregister your victims from our platform thirty seconds before hauling ’em off the track, and (voila!), they’re not under our “Whereabouts” program anymore. Genius, right?
      I can’t think of any agency anywhere that’s ever been LESS useful than the laughably-titled HISA is proving itself to be.

  6. I will always wonder how many horses were preserved to race another day, in other words, they were killed, or missing in action, later rather than sooner, because of the HISA rule of removing toe grabs and heel caulks from the racing plates. This rule was to more or less preserve the inventory of race horses which is not exactly the same thing as saving horses lives.

  7. I’m sure that many jobs were lost when Child Labor Laws were enacted and sweat shops were closed across the country. You don’t ignore cruelty to save jobs. Stupid argument.

  8. I don’t know…I live in the greater Philadelphia Metro region,and you can’t travel anywhere and not see signs everywhere of businesses wanting workers. It’s a LAME ASS excuse these evil racing people are trying to pull the wool over your eyes.

    • Posted signs are everywhere here in Oregon as well with employers desperately seeking employees for their available jobs!

      • This sounds crazy ironic but there is also a shortage of workers in the equine industry including racing, according to the online reports.

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