Let’s take a look at the numbers reported regarding racehorse deaths. The following quote started us wondering.
“Over the past decade, an average of more than 600 thoroughbreds a year have died because of racing,” according to research by the USA TODAY Network and published October 31, 2019.
That number seems low to us. It is also unclear how the publisher defines “died because of racing”. Whatever the case, we do not like the use of the word “died”, like it was somehow the horse’s fault.
The two most common ways racehorses die — are killed — are the following.
At the racetrack
Horse Racing Wrongs have been documenting racehorse deaths since 2014. Most recently they reported a total of 1,102 racehorse deaths in 2019; 1,167 in 2018; and 1,141 in 2017. This is considerably higher than the 600 mentioned above.
Also, interestingly, in an article scrutinizing the dangers of horse racing, National Geographic stated that, “In the U.S., 493 Thoroughbred racehorses died in 2018, according to the Jockey Club’s Equine Injury Database.” What a huge difference between the Jockey Club’s numbers and HRW’s numbers: 493 to 1,167 actual fatalities.
At the slaughterhouse
“Between 7,500 and 10,000 American thoroughbreds are still slaughtered annually for human consumption in Mexico and Canada,” stated Alex Waldrop, president of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), in June 2019.
“Two-thirds of horses sent to slaughter are quarter horses. Many are castoffs from the rodeo or racing industries. The Thoroughbred racing industry sends an estimated 10,000 horses to slaughter annually, meaning that half of the 20,000 new foals born each year will eventually be killed for their flesh.”
Industry numbers in decline
“According to the Jockey Club, more than 150,000 thoroughbreds were active in racing or breeding as recently as 1991. Last year, there were just 80,974: 49,390 racing starters; 30,273 mares bred and 1,311 stallions,” reported the Louisville Courier-Journal in June of 2019.
Horse racing kills
The numbers are heartbreaking whether 600 racehorses or twice that are killed every year by horse racing. One thing is clear: horse racing kills and will go on killing by the thousands unless we put an end to it. In our view, horse racing serves absolutely no good purpose, and exists almost exclusively for gambling revenues.
“Jockey Club President James Gagliano cited a polling by the McKinsey consulting firm that found 50% of casual fans said they would stop betting if they knew horses were mistreated.” We wonder. It certainly does not bother the day-to-day gambler, regardless of all their crocodile tears and hand wringing.
In the meantime Ray Paulick, of the horse race betting site The Paulick Report, declared the sport to be at a crossroads. “One road leads toward national reforms for thoroughbred racing. The other toward likely extinction.”
Featured Image: Dead Australian racehorse, Pride of Westbury. By Horse Racing Kills.