Horseracing-as-sport is an obscenity of the highest order. There are, of course, many reasons why, but perhaps the three most obvious are these: First, the athletes in question are utterly unaware of their status as such – worse, they are in fact pieces of chattel, animal slaves. Second, participation in said sport is compelled by whip-wielding human beings. Third, and most telling of all, death on the field of play.
That horseracing kills horses is settled fact. But what most of the public doesn’t know is the magnitude of that killing, nor in how it relates to other accepted sports. We estimate that roughly 1,000 racehorses are killed on “game day” (just racing, not including training) each year. In comparison, here are the game-related death totals for the four major U.S. professional sports leagues over their entire histories:
Major League Baseball, founded 1903, 116 seasons – one death (Ray Chapman)
National Hockey League, founded 1917-18, 101 seasons – one death (Bill Masterton)
National Football League, founded 1920, 98 seasons – one death (Chuck Hughes)
National Basketball Association, founded 1946-47, 72 seasons – zero deaths
In other words, horseracing kills about as many in one day as the other four have in their collective 387 years. A sport? America, you’ve been hoodwinked.
At least four racehorses were killed on U.S. tracks Thursday…
Mark My Style “suffered a soft tissue injury while breezing” at Belmont – “euthanized.” He was six and had been raced 33 times (but, curiously, nothing since last September).
Awesome Alma “was injured mid stretch” in the 4th at Pimlico “then was euthanized.” She was four and was “For Sale” at $5,000 prior to dying.
Mile Street “broke down and was put down” in the 1st at Presque Isle. He was three; this was his debut.
Turf Prince “was pulled up mid-turn” in the 1st at Charles Town – “euthanized.” He was four and coming off a 9th-of-10 in a $5,000 claiming just 19 days prior.
So, that’s (at least) four equine “athletes” killed in a single U.S. Racing day, three of those “in competition.” For comparison, in the cumulative 312-year history of the three major American professional sports leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA), there have been but two deaths during, or resulting from an injury suffered in, games. Two in 312 years. Horseracing a sport? How can anyone utter those words with a straight face?
(sources: NYS Gaming Commission, Equibase)
No words necessary…
Epsom Downs (England), 1966
Prescott Downs (Arizona), 2000
Pimlico (Barbaro’s eventually-fatal injury), 2006
Churchill Downs (Eight Belles snaps both front ankles), 2008
Aqueduct, 2009 (Private Details killed)
Arlington, 2009 (Born to Be killed)
Galway (Ireland), 2011
Charles Town, 2012
Wexford Racecourse (Ireland), 2013
Del Mar, 2014 (Yes She’s Unusual killed)
Ffos Las Racecourse (Wales), 2016
Gulfstream, 2016 (Kandoo killed)
“Under Tack” Trials
Today is Travers Day, among a handful of the most celebrated on the U.S. racing calendar. The feature, of course, is the Grade 1 Travers Stakes, at once historic – first run in 1864, it is billed as the oldest major Thoroughbred race in the U.S.; and rich – today’s edition is worth a cool $1.25 million. But to all who would tune in or place a bet today, know this: All actions have consequences, and the consequences of a seemingly innocuous day at the track are dead horses. Lots of them.
Since 2009 (when NY began disclosing such things), (at least) 123 racehorses have died, or have been euthanized as a result of injuries sustained, at Saratoga Race Course. Yes, 123. For this relatively short meet, that averages out to over two dead “athletes” per week. Death comes in various ways – the imploded ankles, shattered legs, ruptured ligaments, snapped necks, and “cardiovascular collapses” of “competition.” Has the time not at long last arrived for us to reconsider what we call “sport,” for what shall pass for entertainment? Aspire to better, America.
The Saratoga 123
It’s My Day
Finally Made It
Seis de Mayo
Fire the Bullet
No Ones Shadow
Jackson N Humbolt
Not Now Ashley
Boston and Maine
Twice the Price
Sugar and Smoke
One Note Samba
Live for Today
Heading to Toga
Lucky For You
Lifeguard on Duty
Father Johns Pride
Sir William Bruce
M B and Tee
Tale of the Spa
You Gotta Believe
Jackson N Leonard
On a Snowy Evening
Hadeed Fi Hadeed
Wheels Up Now
Bob Le Beau
Ring of Truth
Its Only Fair