Good God. Just moments after finishing 2nd at the Kentucky Derby a few minutes ago, a filly named Eight Belles (seen at far left, she was the only female horse in the 20-horse race) broke both of her front ankles while pulling up, collapsed on the track, and was euthanized on the spot. Did NBC make anything but a cursory mention? No. (Over on the NY Times' "Rail" blog, commenters are somewhat-gleefully discussing the "symbolism" of the race with regards to the Democratic presidential nomination; Hillary Clinton, you see, had her money on the fallen filly.) You really have to wonder about a "sport" in which thousands of majestic creatures are cruelly-bred, overtrained and raced to the point of mortal injury. And all for ego-inflation of a few wealthy owners, the amusement of millions, and, of course, the profiteering of both. [NY Times]
According to the NY Times, about 2,000 horses a year are injured on the track and must be put to death. Veterinarians with the American Association of Equine Practitioners consider 60 percent to 90 percent of race horses "significantly lame."
We have fucked with nature so much that these magnificent creatures are literally falling apart. As greed drives us to produce faster horses, we will see tragedies like this more often.
And yes, thoroughbreds love to race, but not on hard tracks when their bones are still growing. Not when they are being administered painkillers so they can run full speed while injured (as is very comonplace—each of the horses in the 2003 K-derby were injected with some kind of painkiller). We ask so much of these animals—like we do of dogs—and what do we give them in return?? Well, most of them are shipped off to slaughter houses because its cheaper to make dog food than it is to care for an injured horse.
I think people should be outraged—this completely symbolic of white american greed. Belgium has outlawed this cruel spectacle, please do not support this disgusting industry.