You Can’t Fix Wicked

Supposedly, the lowest breakdown rates in the world are roughly half the U.S. rate. (I say supposedly because there is no uniform policy for the recording and reporting of breakdowns.) Supposedly, these rates are effected by doing all the things American reformers seek: ban on raceday drugs, better pre-race exams, better track surfaces, etc. Well – some questions: First, how would such a rate translate if achieved here? Second, what would such an “achievement” reveal about those behind it? Third and most importantly, in this industry, what does that word – “reform” – even mean?

Through my own research, the NY Times stats, and talks with industry experts, I believe that upwards of 2,000 horses die on or at American racetracks annually. 2,000. If they were to somehow half that (however unlikely that may be), would that, then, qualify as “success”? In reformer circles, it most certainly would; in fact, such a rate would be celebrated. Imagine that – backslapping at 1,000 carcasses. (To those who would argue my number, feel free to plug in another – 1500 to 750, 1200 to 600 – and then explain – with a straight face – how or why that would matter.)

Reform is hope. Reform is promise. Reform says “we’re on it,” a new day is at hand. But as applied here, reform is a ruse. In horseracing, the best reform can mean is less, not zero, dead horses – dead horses, I remind, for $2 bets. Is that what we’re to call progress in the 21st Century? I think not. Progress, true moral progress, would be a once and for all end to this sordid business, for as desperately as they – the apologists, the reformers, the so-called “water, hay, and oats” people – try to sell it, you can’t cleanse that which was never clean to begin with. You can’t fix wicked.

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  1. This article is one example of many that exposes the horse racing industry for what it is. I grew up in this industry. I owned, and trained racehorses. As many of you know, I quit the business because I could no longer support the lie. I will always love the racehorse, but I will not support the continued exploitation of the racehorse for profit whereby few benefit at the expense of many. I call it the 10% rule. About 10% of people in this business make it, but they do by exploiting the racehorses. Countless meetings, lip service, talk, and general misconceptions are put out there by the industry, mainly the Jockey Club, to ensure the continued exploitation of the racehorse, and (in many cases) the taxpayer. This article shows that the same misconceptions are repeated over, and over again with little change. In fact, they can never really affect change because in order for this industry to continue they must control the extent of the changes in order to profit. The only way that this roman- like blood sport will stop is if we keep speaking out about it, sign petitions, and don’t wager. These racehorses are losing their lives for a $2 bet.

    • Thanks Jo Anne. You know, as well as I, because we have first hand experience with the sub-culture of the backside which is full of broken dreams, and broken bones of racehorses. While your in it you tell yourself that it’s okay even though a little voice is saying “this isn’t right.” Then you realize that you can no longer uphold this charade. Like you, I tried to raise money from rich owners to rescue, and rehome thoroughbreds. Sadly, very few open their wallets or even their empty paddocks. These are the very same people that are at Keeneland the following week spending $100,000 or more to buy their next Derby prospect. We are all victims of this, but it’s the voiceless racehorse that pays with their lives.

  2. John Hutcherson
    We are trying to prevent the building of a new horse racetrack in Monterey CA. Brian Boudreau and Southern CA thoroughbred race people have tremendous financial backing and we are trying to prevent this abuse, euthanasia and slaughter industry. They will build their racino in a native oak tree forest. They will remove over 41,000 trees. Please help us by speaking out.

  3. How can these people talk about “reform” and not even mention claiming, where the pariahs of the game run the horses into the ground and outright cruelty is given a nod and a wink ! They can’t be serious !!!

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