Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Life and Death and Money at the Kentucky Derby

I couldn't help noticed this bit of an editorial in today's Times:

There are, of course, owners and trainers who love thoroughbreds for themselves and for their ability to perform on the racetrack, which is a reasonable test of sound breeding. But the real race increasingly seems to be to capitalize on a horse’s success — to move a horse through its career as quickly as possible. The sums involved are immense, so much so that the horses seem more like financial vehicles than animals with an existence of their own. The life of the money comes to seem just as important as the life of the horse.
It's certainly sad to think that greed was could have been responsible for Eight Belles' death.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say that I love reading your blog. However, I find that your comment at the end of this post "It's certainly sad to think that greed was responsible for Eight Belles' death." is too presumptuous. As a fan of the racing industry for the past 18 years, it is true that there are some owners and trainers who race their horses too hard and that Eight Belles had 9 starts prior to the Derby. However, without knowing the circumstances surrounding Eight Belles training and race schedule, you have unfairly concluded that her death was the result of greed on the part of her owner and trainer. I don't think that it is very fair to jump to that conclusion just because someone wrote an editorial in the NY Times.

Anonymous said...

I don't think its fair to assume that all involved in racing are motivated only by greed and there is no evidence as of today that the owners/trainer of Eight Belles was in that money-camp. Remember how media accused the Jacksons of being greedy with Barbaro - that the only reason they treated his injury was so they could keep him alive and profit from his genetics? An assumption/accusation couldn't have been more wrong! It seems we have not learned that lesson and still jump to the conclusion that all racing people are evil...

Nicole said...

While I don't know much about the racing industry, I have been around horses my whole life. I have also heard of many "pet" horses having to be put down due to broken legs, etc. For animals that eat, sleep, and live on their feet, it is almost impossible to get them to heal properly so that they can live normally. And sometimes it's best not to believe everything we read.

Sicilian said...

Compare horses to star athletes. . . do we do the very same thing to people. . .
Ciao

Madame X said...

I should have phrased the last line "might have been" or "could have been responsible." I know nothing about horse racing and have no personal opinion about the death of this horse other than that it is a shame that it happened, for whatever reason. I was just struck by the fact that the editorial related the death to money in such a strong way, and didn't intend to present it in a way that made it seem that I agreed or disagreed with that opinion.

farmwife said...

As a certified vet tech who has worked on the track, let me tell you that NO one wanted that horse put down. That filly would have gone on to produce a foal a year that would have sold in the HUNDREDS of thousands of dollars. Her death represented a HUGE financial loss to her owners -- do you think they would have chosen that?

Fact is, accidents happen. A horse can NOT survive if it can't stand up. Period. All the PETA whining and screaming in the world can't change that fact. A horse carries 60% of its bodyweight on it's front end. Horses also do not deal well with pain, and long term narcotics really aren't beneficial to other things -- like eating.

Honestly - I've seen a lot more horrific things in backyard horses. Track horses are really treated much better than most "plain" horses ever dream of.

Matt said...

And isn't this all besides the point? Is a horse really that much different from a cow or pig, which we eat thousands of daily? Why isn't the death of a random cow this tragic?

I think we need to keep things in perspective here. If the death of animals truly saddens us, we should become vegetarians and protest the killing of animals. If it does not, we should not be so concerned with the death of a horse.

By the way, as many as 15,000 people are dead or dying in Myanmar currently.

H_Roarke said...

"Compare horses to star athletes. . . do we do the very same thing to people. " - Sicilian

This statement was supposed to be clevely obvious, but doesn't quite reach its goal. Just another extreme statement, that's supposed to be convincing because the person saying it "believes" it.

We don't do it to star athletes for obvious reasons:
1) Humans can easily survive on crutches, in a wheel chair, sitting or lying in bed.
2) Humans are smart enough not to try and continually walk on the injury if they aren't supposed to. Well, at least most humans are.
3) Human physiology doesn't make healing so difficult in the leg region compared to horses.