Dead Horses: “The Price of Sport”

In an Erie Times-News article on Pennsylvania racing deaths, Penn National spokesman Fred Lipkin says, “In a perfect world, we would have zero breakdowns. … And I’m sure in the National Football League and the (National Basketball Association), they would hope that nobody ruptures an Achilles tendon. It’s the price of the sport when you’re dealing with 1,000-pound or 250-pound athletes.”

By now it should be clear that horse people are either delusional, ignorant, dishonest (most likely), or a combination thereof. The rational among us know that an autonomous human athlete does not equate in any way to an indentured horse. (And Aaron Rodgers is in no danger of being “put down” should he rupture his Achilles tonight.) But the most vile part of the quote is the last: “It’s the price of the sport…” Mr. Lipkin, that “price” you speak so casually about were once intelligent, sensitive creatures, and their grossly premature deaths are not innocent, unfortunate byproducts of sporting competition.

As for the numbers, according to the article, in the recently completed Presque Isle meet, 13 horses lost their lives – 10 while racing, 2 while training (heart attacks), and 1 “found dead in the stall.” (Presque Isle, long touted as one of the nation’s “safer tracks,” surpassed its kill total from last year.) Through August 27th, 33 have died at Parx – 24 racing, 8 training, and 1 from a fractured spine after flipping in the paddock. (Parx lost 44 in 2013.) And at Penn, through August 8th, 41 dead – 20 racing, 12 training, 9 “other.” (89 – yes, 89 – died there in 2013.) So, this year, in Pennsylvania alone, 87 horses have been sacrificed for Mr. Lipkin’s “sport.” This is horseracing.

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