The Underbelly of Horse Racing

8bellesSummer Bird won the Preakness yesterday.  So, perhaps now would be a good time to revisit the world of thoroughbred racing (Luis first posted about it here).

A Few Basic facts:

– Horse racing is a $4 Billion industry

– racehorses weigh over 1000 pounds, but have been selectively bred to have smaller legs – you do the math

– over 3000 horses have died at the track in the last five years

(read more here)

The most prevalent race horse injuries that result from the actual race are bowed tendons, knee injuries, bucked and split shins, and various other bone fractures. These injuries are usually critical, often ending in euthanasia (more here).

From PETA’s website:

“Finding an American racehorse trained on the traditional hay, oats, and water probably would be impossible,” commented one reporter.

There are trainers pumping horses full of illegal drugs every day,” says a former Churchill Downs public relations director.

Which drugs are legal varies from state to state, with Kentucky holding the reputation as the most lenient state.

According to the The New York Sun, because “thoroughbreds are bred for flashy speed and to look good in the sales ring … the animal itself has become more fragile” and that “to keep the horses going,” they’re all given Lasix (which controls bleeding in the lungs), phenylbutazone (an anti-inflammatory), and cortiscosteroids (for pain and inflammation).

The trainer of Big Brown, the 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, openly admits to giving his horses Winstrol, a steroid that is illegal for equine use in 10 states, although not in the three that host the Triple Crown. Before it was banned in Pennsylvania, nearly 1,000 horses were tested for steroids and more than 60 percent tested positive.

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In light of the above, I could do with fewer equine encomia and more oversight and regulation of the industry or — better still — less of the industry.

–David Cassuto

h/t Joe Edgar