Statements from The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS):

“We’re not against racing. We want it done well and humanely…while PETA may be an anti-racing organization [it’s not], HSUS isn’t.” – former president and CEO Wayne Pacelle

“This is a national industry, and like football or baseball or other major American sports…we need national standards…” – Pacelle

“Two weeks ago, the racing industry celebrated its latest Triple Crown winner, and it’s now enjoying the increased enthusiasm a new superstar brings to the sport. But all of that enthusiasm and support will be difficult to sustain if the industry fails to consider the welfare of the equine athletes at the heart of this sport.” – current president and CEO, Kitty Block

“First, I want to clarify the Humane Society of the United States’ position on horse racing and our interest in this legislation. We are not, in principle, opposing horse racing.” – Block

“The widespread use of both legal and illegal drugs imperils an industry that employs 400,000 Americans.” – Block

“The lack of strong and consistent national oversight of this industry…decreases vital public support for the industry. The Horseracing Integrity Act would address the pervasive drug use in the industry, and – as its name suggests – begin to restore some integrity to horseracing, helping…the business.” – Block

“This change in policy is urgently needed because the administering of performance-enhancing drugs is unfair to just about everyone involved in racing, [including] the fans who wager on the outcome of races…” – Block

“Racehorses are incredible athletes.” – Marty Irby, senior adviser, in a recently-released Facebook video

“The widespread use of both legal and illegal drugs is KILLING [his voice inflection in the video] an industry that employs 400,000 Americans.” – Irby

“Horseracing is a $40 billion a year industry that fuels our economy. Without reform…support from fans will waver.” – Irby

I once called the HSUS’ position on racehorses criminal. It is. But in retrospect, I think that too kind. Horseracing is, by any and all definitions, animal exploitation. Absolutely, positively, unequivocally. Exploitation necessarily involves suffering of some kind. Exploitation, then, must be called abusive. Animal exploitation, then, is animal cruelty. There is no wiggling out of this.

Far worse than the HSUS simply remaining mum on this issue, the self-styled “leading animal advocacy organization” in America is actively trying to help Horseracing survive – indeed to help it thrive. The logic, then, becomes irrepressible: The Humane Society of the United States endorses, at least in this one area, animal exploitation; The Humane Society of the United States countenances, at least in this one area, animal cruelty. Here, a refresher on what that cruelty looks like – cruelty, I remind, that is inherent to horseracing, meaning it could never be eliminated. (note: I will omit the nonconsensual drugging/doping, the HSUS’ virtually singular obsession.)

Commodification: Racehorses are literal chattel, pieces of property to be bought, sold, traded, and dumped whenever and however their owners decide.

Subjugation: “Horsemen” utterly control every moment of their assets’ lives – control effected through, among other things, lip tattoos, nose chains, metal mouth-bits, and leather whips. Force and power; domination of a weaker species.

Confinement and Isolation: In perhaps the worst of it all, racehorses are locked in tiny stalls for over 23 hours a day, making a mockery of the industry claim that horses are born to run, love to run. Adding to this cruelty is the complete isolation of naturally social, herd-oriented animals. In a word, heartrending.

Killing: While the HSUS claims that curtailing and controlling drug use will reduce deaths, the simple truth is that some horses will always die, even if all drugs were ruled out completely (see dead horses in “cleaner” Britain/Australia; see 18-month-old trainees breaking down before ever being injected with raceday meds).

Slaughter: Ignore their hollow “zero-tolerance” policies. Fact is, the vast majority of horses bred to race end up bled-out and butchered. It’s a business, and everyone is trying to find the next Justify; “responsible breeding” does not, will never, exist. Consequently, there are simply way too many has-beens or never-were competing for the available “safe landings.” If in doubt, talk to your local rescues and query them on funding and space. On this, PETA also warrants rebuke for its new feel-good program whereby winning bettors can donate to Thoroughbred retirement. First, it can’t even begin to make a dent. Worse, with this, PETA, too, is now helping Racing rehabilitate its image, thus helping it to become more firmly entrenched in our society.

As previously covered, the HSUS stands against all animal-entertainment – the circus, the marine park, the rodeo, bullfighting, “acting,” and, yes, dogracing – all of it except for horseracing. There can be but one explanation for this: Somewhere within the highest echelons of the HSUS (directors, donors) there are Racing enthusiasts who have co-opted and corrupted this organization. By actively promoting horseracing, the HSUS is abetting the condemnation of countless future generations of horses to lives of crushing negation, terrifying breaks and deaths on the track, and brutal, violent ends in the slaughterhouse. In short, the HSUS is a sham and undeserving of even a dime from anyone who considers him-herself a friend to animals.

Horseracing-as-sport is an obscenity of the highest order. There are, of course, many reasons why, but perhaps the three most obvious are these: First, the athletes in question are utterly unaware of their status as such – worse, they are in fact pieces of chattel, animal slaves. Second, participation in said sport is compelled by whip-wielding human beings. Third, and most telling of all, death on the field of play.

That horseracing kills horses is settled fact. But what most of the public doesn’t know is the magnitude of that killing, nor in how it relates to other accepted sports. We estimate that roughly 1,000 racehorses are killed on “game day” (just racing, not including training) each year. In comparison, here are the game-related death totals for the four major U.S. professional sports leagues over their entire histories:

Major League Baseball, founded 1903, 116 seasons – one death (Ray Chapman)
National Hockey League, founded 1917-18, 101 seasons – one death (Bill Masterton)
National Football League, founded 1920, 98 seasons – one death (Chuck Hughes)
National Basketball Association, founded 1946-47, 72 seasons – zero deaths

In other words, horseracing kills about as many in one day as the other four have in their collective 387 years. A sport? America, you’ve been hoodwinked.

At least four racehorses were killed on U.S. tracks Thursday…

Mark My Style “suffered a soft tissue injury while breezing” at Belmont – “euthanized.” He was six and had been raced 33 times (but, curiously, nothing since last September).

Awesome Alma “was injured mid stretch” in the 4th at Pimlico “then was euthanized.” She was four and was “For Sale” at $5,000 prior to dying.

Mile Street “broke down and was put down” in the 1st at Presque Isle. He was three; this was his debut.

Turf Prince “was pulled up mid-turn” in the 1st at Charles Town – “euthanized.” He was four and coming off a 9th-of-10 in a $5,000 claiming just 19 days prior.

So, that’s (at least) four equine “athletes” killed in a single U.S. Racing day, three of those “in competition.” For comparison, in the cumulative 312-year history of the three major American professional sports leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA), there have been but two deaths during, or resulting from an injury suffered in, games. Two in 312 years. Horseracing a sport? How can anyone utter those words with a straight face?

(sources: NYS Gaming Commission, Equibase)