A racehorse steps onto the track during training. Image by Clarence Alford.

Crist takes on Drape re racehorse doping, cruelties and death

A racehorse steps onto the track during training. Image by Clarence Alford.
A racehorse steps onto the track for training. Image by Clarence Alford.

Steven Crist writing for the Daily Racing Form takes on Joe Drape of the New York Times regarding a column Drape wrote today, calling it a “dishonest diatribe.”

Hold your horses; let’s take a close look at this.

Crist states:

Since March, the Times has pulled out all the stops in depicting American racing as an exercise in animal cruelty, with absolutely no context for its repeated claim that virtually everyone involved in the industry is murdering horses at a record rate.

In our opinion, American horse racing clearly is an exercise in animal cruelty. I do not see how that can be denied. The claim that virtually everyone involved in the industry is murdering horses at a record rate no doubt is an extreme statement. However, the death rate of Thoroughbred racehorses is tragically high, and continues at its “record rate”.

We exchanged dialogue on Twitter with someone asking what is the “right number” and how many is acceptable, when we expressed alarm that 9 racehorses have been killed in a matter of weeks at the Del Mar meeting in California.

The only “right number” is zero, but is that achievable? No, it is not, giving the conditions in which horses are asked to race. There are bound to be injuries and fatalities. But to say that the current high rate of deaths is acceptable does not mean everything that can be done should not be done to lower it. Eliminating racehorse breakdowns and deaths should be the ultimate aim.

From where we sit, very little if anything of significance is being done concerning the issue of doping, breakdowns and deaths, apart from meetings among all the alphabet soup organizations that “regulate” racing where proposals are made and put down quicker than a fatally injured racehorse.

Crist then states:

Making no distinction between the legal, regulated administration of therapeutic medications, and the rare instances of actual doping and perfidy, the Times blames it all on “a culture of drugs, …”

Rare instances? Blaming it all on a culture of drugs, implying there is not one? Crist certainly is not serious here. For more information, please see Jane Allin’s “The Chemical Horse“.

Crist goes on to support the training methods and medications of this year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I’ll Have Another who was scratched the day before the Belmont. But I will not sport with your intelligence on that score. We have covered that subject sufficiently here.

However, it begs this question: Where are all of your bright three-year old Thoroughbred stars you were so excited about before the Derby if nothing is wrong with racing?

From where we sit, if Drape’s contentions are histrionics, then so are Crist’s responses to them.

We do like this squib toward the end:

” . . . encourages politicians to withhold and withdraw funds from the sport.”

Now that’s the real worry isn’t it?

1 thought on “Crist takes on Drape re racehorse doping, cruelties and death”

  1. joe: consider the source of criticism. it’s like a hog farmer saying pork chops don’t raise cholesterol (i still like them myself). keep up the diligence on racing ills, although it’s a lot of spitting in the wind. 25 years ago when i was covering the sport closer, there was a group of trainers, owners and media trying to get some consistent national rules. hasn’t happened yet, but keep up the good work. darrell simmons


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