A horse race is a competition in which horses compete for prizes. Typically, horses are matched up against each other and the winner is determined by a judge who looks at the performance of the horse and assigns a value to it. A horse that has the highest number of points wins. A horse that comes in second place will receive a certain percentage of the winnings, while those who come in third or fourth will be awarded smaller amounts. A number of exotic wagering options can also be used during a horse race, including the pick 3 and the wheel.
Behind the romanticized facade of Thoroughbred horse racing, a world of gruesome injuries, drug abuse and slaughter awaits. While spectators show off their fancy outfits and sip mint juleps, horses are forced to sprint-often under the threat of whips-at speeds that can lead to horrific breakdowns, serious injuries and even hemorrhage in their lungs.
While horse racing is a multibillion dollar industry, the sport is in crisis. Despite an ever-increasing awareness of the dark side of horse racing, the sport continues to lose fans and revenue. The industry’s insistence on breeding and racing older and more injured horses has resulted in a significant increase in the incidence of serious injuries and deaths of racing and breeding stock.
During the Breeders’ Cup, race management at Santa Anita was focused on ensuring that this year’s event would be safe for all participants. They flooded the facility with veterinarians and expensive imaging equipment, and conducted thorough daily inspections using binoculars to observe the equine athletes’ movements.
But despite the best efforts of everyone involved, horses were still being injured and some died. One horse, War of Will, broke down in the stretch run and had to be euthanized after suffering an injury known as a pulled suspensory ligament. Other horses came in with broken legs, strained tendons and lacerations.
Amid the flurry of activity, many horses got lost and were unable to complete the race. Others were forced to retire from racing due to health concerns, while a few were shipped off for slaughter in Mexico and Canada. It is a nightmare that could have been avoided with a wraparound lifelong tracking system.
There are now a handful of independent nonprofit rescues and individuals who network, fundraise and work tirelessly to save these once-famous thoroughbreds. It is an uphill struggle, but it is a necessary one for the future of horse racing. If the industry is to survive, it must address its glaring shortcomings. The first step must be to develop a comprehensive plan for aftercare for every horse that leaves the track. Without it, ex-racehorses will continue to hemorrhage into the slaughter pipeline, where they are offered a Facebook post and a limited window of opportunity to be “bailed” before they are shipped off for the horror of their final days. The time is now to make this happen. This is not just a matter of public policy; it is a matter of survival for the entire industry.