U.S. horse racing continues to lose horses and relevance. In case no one in the industry has noticed, the two go hand in hand.
This brings to mind the recent article written by Eric Mitchell for the Blood-Horse regarding the recent racehorse welfare and safety summit.
Mitchell starts with:
Recently completed at Keeneland is what has become one of Thoroughbred racing’s most important annual events—the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit.
Come on now. Since the welfare and safety of the racehorse is not the most important item on American racing’s agenda, how important can its annual summit on this subject be? You will see what I mean a bit further down.
Mitchell goes on to applaud racing’s Equine Injury Database claiming that racing is now “armed with meaningful statistics on fatalities” so attending veterinarians can identify “horses of interest”, meaning ones who may require a second look — just perhaps they should not be racing. Mitchell continues with some data analysis mentioning the number of fatalities.
Then his article takes a change in tone when he rightly points out, “The industry simply has to do better.”
Now on to the bit (so to speak) that caught my interest, mostly because I was surprised, not by content but by inclusion. Mitchell recounts a conversation he had with friends when the subject of horse racing came up.
“You know, we haven’t been to the races a lot, but every time we’ve gone a horse got injured and had to be put down,” said the husband.
“I can’t bear to watch them put up that big screen,” said the wife.
The other couple at the table had been to the races only a few times as well and on at least two visits also watched horses break down.
Even among longtime fans of the sport, I hear over and over that they have stopped attending live racing out of fear of seeing a horse injured.
No one has to hear too many stories like these to understand why Thoroughbred racing is struggling to gain fans.
A comment by “sceptre” hits the nail firmly on the head:
Yes, Mr. Mitchell, here’s where the focus should be-on the safety and welfare of the horse. The goal, however, should be this in itself, and not as a means for attracting more fans/revitalizing an industry.
Do I hear an amen? Read full article on BloodHorse.com >>
So on it goes. Even the U.S. Breeders’ Cup is not what it was. Where are the sport’s stars? The ones still standing are sent into the commercial breeding pipeline to make more horses for the industry to cripple and breakdown. And we are talking 3-year olds here. Where are the Europeans? Most of them are staying home.
There may be a glimmer of hope. I read in the Paulick Report a post about English trainer Richard Hannon, Jr. sending one of their youngsters to the Breeders’ Cup to run in the Juvenile Fillies turf race. But note what he says:
Assistant trainer Richard Hannon Jr. said on his father’s website, “We have never had a winner at the Breeders’ Cup, but Sky Lantern probably represents our best chance yet. She has solid group 1 form, and, being on the turf, we have to think that she has a serious chance, especially as there is no Lasix permitted in all the 2-year-old races out there, which makes it a level playing field for everyone.”
A level playing field for everyone. What a concept. Why does American horse racing refuse to see this would help everyone; would be for the good of everyone.