The Whitewashing of Kills Debate

A recent Harness Racing Update (HRU) column by Bob Heyden elicited some interesting, and illuminating, responses. In his piece, Heyden argued that all track “mishaps” – including deaths, even the most horrific – should be available via replay. Heyden:

“To promote the sport as one that does not have risks – occasional accidents – is the height of irresponsibility. … I am not asking to promote a Joe Theisman/Lawrence Taylor-like broken leg ad nauseum. I am asking to be treated with the respect that all fans, bettors, casual observers and reporters deserve. The truth. The whole story.”

And the responses. This from a Canadian reader and (of course) racing fan:

“Animals, unable to consent [emphasis mine], when subjected to any harm causes terrible angst in most of society. The tracks not showing accident videos obviously have a greater understanding of the precipice our sport stands on than many of those in the business. The business simply can’t afford to offer ammunition to its critics.” Then this headscratcher from that same reader: “The danger we face is not all our fault as it is the catastrophic breakdowns of the runners that are ‘driving the bus.'”

Huh? What do you suppose makes those breakdowns possible?

My favorite response, though, was this one from Brett Sturman, another HRU columnist:

“But, whether most of us like it or not, there is another side to it. The sport wouldn’t exist as we know it today without state funding. The more widely available video is that shows horses crashing to the ground in a chain reaction only serves to give further ammunition to those who can’t wait for more reasons given to them to take away all subsidies. Ideally, yes, full transparency should be provided with this and all other issues. But nobody wants to rock the boat because nobody can afford to.”

Translation: Protect our free cash. Don’t let the suckers – the taxpayers, that is – know or see the full extent of our cruelty and killing. File this one under indicting themselves.

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  1. “Specifically, the inhumane horsemen who trade their husbandry ethics for a purse, and so blight what was once called the sport of kings — ruthless trainers, greedy horse owners, shady veterinarians and track executives, paid-off sporting regulators, lawmakers greased with lobbying money and judges who slow-walk already watered-down safety laws. Humans are killing racehorses in any way that will increase profit and reduce cost…”
    — From “Racehorse deaths aren’t a mystery: We’ve known all along why they’re dying” by Rae Hodge.

  2. IF ALL the videos of horses getting horrifically injured in harness racing were replayed for all of the fans to see and ponder, there would be fewer fans over time.
    The video of the harness horses being catastrophically injured by the truck with the “starting wings” that malfunctioned at the beginning of the race was hideous. It’s sort of like seeing the undercover videos of what happens to the horses at the slaughterhouses in that the horses are defenseless victims of the cruelties of human exploitation.

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