The most recent running of the Kentucky Derby ended with three horses suffering injuries, one severe enough to retire the horse from racing. [Archarcharch, Comma to the Top, and Pants on Fire] Is it finally time to retire the so-called Sport of Kings? Go back a few years. Weren’t we shocked when the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro died after treatment for injuries sustained in the Preakness Stakes of the same year or when Eight Belles, runner up in the 2008 Derby, had to be euthanized on the track following the race after she collapsed from two broken ankles? Seems horse racing may be on life support—let’s put it out of its misery.
However, apparently, shock at the death of these magnificent creatures and concern over injuries to others is overcome by the lure of money. Money talks in the world of high stakes horse racing. It talks even at the local track. But do the horses ever get to talk? No. They are the ones whose bodies are sometimes bent and broken all in the name of money. They are the ones who must endure travel across country and even across oceans to get to the next race and the next and the next. They are the ones who are sent to slaughter when they can no longer race. But they never get a say until their body gives out. Then their trainers listen but often only with an ear toward returning them to the track. A horse who cannot race is a horse who isn’t paying for his or her upkeep.
The jewels in the Triple Crown are tarnished. Their jagged edges are causing pain and suffering, not just to the horses who run the races but to all horses who are being born around the world who never make it to the race track or who “wash out” in their rookie year. We don’t read about the thousands of thoroughbreds who are unmanageable and untrainable because of poor breeding practices. We don’t hear about the thousands who are shipped out of the country to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico. We don’t hear about the misery these animals live in just so owners can make money off their bodies.
When you think about it…maybe, just maybe, it’s time for the Triple Injury Race to put itself out to pasture.