“They’re like our children.”

“We see them as members of the family.”

“They’re treated better than you and I.”

“When one dies, we grieve.”

Vulgar lies, all. The racehorse, in truth, is but an asset, a resource to be mined, a means to an end – simple chattel. Although you readers surely don’t need more evidence, here is a posting from the notorious Unadilla Livestock Auction in NY:

To repeat: “If a horse is called ‘as is’ or ‘sold right here in the dust’ there is no guarantee. ALL LEAD-INS, REGARDLESS OF PRICE, ARE SOLD AS-IS!”

Just things.

Then there’s a 2020 BloodHorse article on the “tax benefits for charitable donations of horses.” Here is a sampling:

“A horse owned less than two years does not qualify for capital-gain treatment, so a donation of such a horse would be deductible only to the extent of the lesser of (i) the horse’s fair market value or (ii) its cost basis—ordinarily none, if a homebred. For an appreciated horse held more than two years, the owner must consider depreciation recapture rules. If a horse that would have produced a gain if sold has been depreciated, the recapture rules treat the gain as ordinary to the extent of depreciation taken while held by the owner.”

So many more wonderful tips follow, including info on “donating annual breeding rights,” and a reminder to get “written acknowledgment from the charity [with] a description of the donated property.” At once repugnant and so profoundly sad.

The “National Council of Legislators From Gaming States” is an umbrella organization of the state legislators responsible for the regulation of gaming across the country. The Council is holding its summer meeting in July. A primary area of focus will be horseracing. Here is how the Council is promoting this particular panel on its website:

“Most horse-racing tracks cannot fill all of the races they intend to run. Racing programs are inundated with short fields. Handles are declining proportionately. Racing is not attracting younger fans. A panel of experts will address these serious challenges at the Summer Meeting….”

– cannot fill all of the races
– short fields
– declining handles
– not attracting younger fans

Not even trying to hide it.

Then there’s this from Fonner Park CEO Chris Kotulak (in the Paulick Report yesterday) as he waits for final approval of corporate welfare for his beloved industry:

“This winter, before, during and after the Nebraska legislative session, I’ve been very outspoken in my efforts to communicate the dire straits that the Nebraska horse racing industry has fallen into. … I hoped to offer increased purses this year but couldn’t. The hard fact is that there is never a day of mutuel handle at Fonner Park that covers our purses for that day. … I remain bent on increased purses and am working all angles to achieve that – whether we have slot reels spinning by our 2023 condition book or not. … Truthfully, without casino operations, it’s a weak outlook.”

Again, there it is. Horseracing, as a rule, is a losing proposition in the 21st Century. Now, if only we can convince those legislators.

Laoban was a Grade 1-level horse whose last race was the prestigious Travers Stakes in 2016. “Retired” after only nine starts (and a half million in earnings), he was then, of course, moved on to stud duty. Last May, The Louisville Courier-Journal reports, Laoban died minutes after being injected with “Black Shot,” a “vitamin cocktail” intended to help “performance” (apparently Laoban was struggling to “cover”). The matter is in litigation – the insurance company, in denying the claim, says Laoban was administered expired drugs, and at multiple times the recommended dosage – but that’s not what’s important here.

Ignorant jokes aside, the breeding shed is its own kind of servitude, creating its own kind of suffering. With zero control over his own wants and needs, Laoban was but a machine, and when that machine began breaking down, the humane course – real retirement – was denied, with the prescribed fix destroying the machine outright. All so that a few more widgets – new racehorses, that is – could be produced. Disgusting.

Because his was not an on- or at-track kill, Laoban (below) will not make our list. But make no mistake about it, Horseracing, the industry, is wholly and unequivocally responsible for the death of this poor animal. Full stop.