Horse racing’s epidemic of death
The animal-rights activists could be right about horse racing, said Paul Newberry. “Maybe the entire sport needs to be shut down.” After more than two dozen horses died in just three months at the historic Santa Anita track in Southern California, the track announced last week it was suspending operations while officials try to figure out what’s gone wrong. Throughout the nation, a staggering 817 horses are known to have died while training or racing in 2018; activists say the real death toll is probably 2,000. Why? Today, the 1,200-pound “equine athletes” that are driven to run at top speed for the entertainment of bettors are often heavily drugged to mask injuries and fatigue. Sadly, owners and trainers “are more concerned about making a quick buck than protecting animals.” Horses driven too hard can develop microfractures in their brittle legs that lead to a sudden, catastrophic leg break during training or a race, forcing trainers to put them down. Public revulsion over the mistreatment of elephants shuttered Ringling Bros.’ circuses, and Sea World is in decline because orca captivity is inhumane. If horse racing cannot halt the epidemic of death on its tracks, it, too, will disappear.