Point of View: Saving the horse racing industry

Point of View is about bringing many diverse issues to the forefront and discussing them. You may not sense a theme from week to week, which is what I’m hoping for.  I will be all over the place.  Not all topics will be equally important, but they will all be worth discussing.  Last week was about our homeless situation, today is about horse racing.  No relation between the two, but both need discussion.  

Since last December, thirty-three horses have died in racing or training accidents at Santa Anita, but it isn’t the only track with a problem.  It isn’t even the track with the most deaths.  According to the Jockey Club's Equine Injury Database, Illinois’ Hawthorne Racecourse leads all racetracks in racing deaths followed by Churchill Downs in Kentucky. 

Some groups want to ban horse racing, deeming it cruel.  But wait a minute. Thoroughbred racehorses are pampered and for the most part lead better lives than many of the people who take care of them.   They are seen several times a week by veterinarians and have a better healthcare program than most of us.  

Rather than calling for an end to a magnificent sport, we need to talk about what can be done to reduce horse racing deaths.  Researchers have found some consistent factors in racing accidents including track firmness, increased racing distance, first-year racing and horses wearing eye covers.  Statistically, there are fewer catastrophic injuries on synthetic tracks, but not all tracks want to install them.  Let’s start there. 

Owners, trainers and track executives need to call an emergency summit to identify and implement everything known about reducing racing deaths and require these changes at all tracks.  Then they should create a self-governing body like the NCAA in college to enforce their rules uniformly.  Thoroughbred racing is a beautiful sport, but it could disappear in a flash if horses continue to die at this rate.  

What are your thoughts?  Give us a call at 310-584-2030 and let us know.
I’m Bill Lamb, and that’s my Point of View.

The views expressed are not necessarily those of the station or its employees.