Seven horses died at Churchill Downs over the Kentucky Derby celebration weeks a bloody marker for a historic event. Two of those horses died on Derby Day. The deaths of so many creatures piqued the public outcry against an industry that is flush with cash but struggling to make sense of itself in this day and age. Outside of Kentucky, what is horse racing, and does it still make sense to continue?
Im a Kentucky girl, born and raised, and there are so many parts of me that love to get swept into the excitement of the Derby events and even race day. Standing along the rail as the horses fly by your face is exhilarating. Horses are amazing creatures, and the thoroughbred is at the top of the pack in grace and athleticism.
The dark side of this excitement is that, for our amusement, these animals are placed at risk and often meet terrible fates because of issues that could only, and would only, happen within the racing industry.
Is it worth it?
Ultimately, no. Horse racing cannot continue to subject these animals to conditions that cost them their lives, and put them at risk of injuries from which they cannot recover. After this past weekend, the conversation about horse safety has been magnified. Changes need to be made, and you can bet they will.
But its not just horses who were taken from us this past weekend.
Did you know that 17 people died in mass casualty events in Texas over the weekend? Nine on Saturday at a shopping mall shooting and another eight when someone drove a car into a crowd of people. Im sure many families are struggling to make sense of these events.
Which story will dominate the news cycle? Probably the atrocities in Texas, at least for a bit, until someone again mentions horses.
Which issue will finally get some action? Also probably horses.
Weve seen time and time again that when humans kill humans, our government becomes lost in the litany of excuses they give us as to why they cant change anything. Because for them, the dollars that line their pockets from gun lobbyists and other special interests are more valuable than anyone lost to these violent acts. There is no effort to make changes that will actually create protection for people.
Certainly, with horses, the changes will still protect the moneyed interests of horse owners and industry players, but at least were likely to see noticeable changes for the good of the horses, if only to keep the money flowing.
What about us?
Im not claiming that it is unfair for horses to get better care and treatment. For sure, I believe weve seen clear evidence over the last two weeks that what happens in the racing industry puts these creatures at great risk. What I would like to see is a level of movement and action to bring similar urgency to the violence done to people.
It seems like an easy fix, but it wont be. No matter how ugly the events in Texas, this isnt the last time well have this conversation. Certainly not in these pages.
What is the solution when moneys purchasing power supersedes health, kindness, and the right to live?
In Kentucky, racing is a part of our DNA. However, I think losing seven animals in such a short period makes it harder to keep cheering and betting money thats covered in blood.
Will we have the same reaction to the bloodshed in our streets, at our shopping malls, and outside our migrant centers?
America seems to have a bloodthirst, be it for people or animals. We cant get enough of cheering for sports, for weapons, and events that end with a body count. We let the blood keep spilling.