The New York Times reported the following story filed by the Associated Press:
A California prosecutor found no evidence of animal cruelty or other crimes during an investigation into a spike in horse deaths at Santa Anita Park racetrack over the past year, according to a report issued Thursday.
A task force formed by the Los Angeles district attorney looked at a decade’s worth of data and found that 49 horses died at Santa Anita Park during the 12-month period ending in June, fewer than the 71 who perished in 2011-12 but more than the 37 who died in 2010-11.
It also found that the deaths had occurred at a rate higher than the national average, but lower than some years in the past decade and lower than Churchill Downs in Kentucky.
The investigation was one of several actions taken after 23 horse deaths at the California track during the winter-spring season from Dec. 30 to March 31 caused an outcry that included calls to shut down horse racing in the state, regulatory changes and proposed legislation.
There is much more to this story. In the meantime, here is the report.
— SANTA ANITA TASK FORCE REPORT OF INVESTIGATION, 19 PP, 3 MB, PDF »
FEATURED IMAGE: Mongolian Groom. Sports Illustrated photo.
Updated Dec 23, 3:43pm, Louisville KY
What the Raced to Death video report by Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel does not mention is what fuels the so-called “sport” of horse racing. In a word — gambling. It is the people who gamble on horse racing who sponsor racehorse abuse, doping, breakdowns and death on the track, and thousands of racehorses at the slaughterhouse.
Without gambling horse racing would not exist. History points to this truth. By the end of 1910 virtually all gambling was outlawed in the United States. Horse racing collapsed.
Then came the Depression. In 1933 the gambling prohibition is repealed, and horse racing returns to the United States. This is when Seabiscuit becomes the hero of a depressed nation that had little to nothing to cheer about. And horse racing begins to thrive once again.
As horse racing escalated in the 1940’s and 50’s almost all states change their laws to allow parimutuel betting on horses which significantly increased the “handle” or how much was bet by the public.
Every wager placed at a racetrack, whether live or simulcast, trickles down from the gambler’s pocketbook to the track and the horsemen involved. Generally, a track’s purse structure comes directly from the projected amount of handle (the total amount bet by the public). A percentage of each race’s total purse is awarded to the highest finishers.
Trainers of course also make money via training fees paid for by the horse’s owner and there’s prize money of course. But this would barely keep them in business, if at all.
So it is “the take” that they train for — a percentage of the multi-million dollar gambling revenues generated by horse racing.
Without gambling horse racing would not be in business, the business of doping, maiming and destroying racehorses on the track and at the slaughterhouse.
If you haven’t seen Raced to Death by HBO’s Real Sports with Brian Gumbel, go here.