You tell me this is a sport run by people who "love" horses:
Saturday's Kentucky Derby showcased the spectacular win of a potential Triple Crown winner, Big Brown, and the fatal ankle injuries of Eight Belles, coming just a year after Barbaro was euthanized from injuries suffered in the 2006 Preakness. These three horses -- along with all the contenders in this year's Derby and an estimated 75% of U.S. thoroughbreds -- have a common ancestor, Native Dancer.
No one knows how many fatal racing injuries occur nationwide, which is troubling all by itself. How can the horse racing industry control the problem without a firm count and an analysis of what the circumstances were in each case? The most prevalent estimate is 1.5 such accidents per 1,000 race starts. That amounts to roughly two per day. As awareness grows, it's unlikely the public, ever more concerned about animal welfare, will calmly accept the death by racing injury of more than 700 horses each year.
For all the anthropomorphic talk about racehorses being "family" and "valiantly" striving to win or overcome injuries, the horses have no choice in this multibillion-dollar industry.
Every single horse in this year's Kentucky Derby can be traced back to Native Dancer. All 20 of them.
Maybe it was the hoof crack that spoiled Big Brown's chances, but the horse shows no signs of lameness. Before the Preakness, Big Brown's trainer unapologetically announced that he injected the horse with steroids on the 15th of every month (at least he's honest about it--it's standard industry practice). But after a big hypocritical media outcry, he skipped the steroids this month. Who the hell knows why--maybe after all the boasting he had done about the horse, he wanted to prove that Big Brown could win without steroids. But Big Brown might as well have been a different horse today . . . did not, could not run the way he did with the support of the chemicals.
Oh yes, everyone in racing just loves the horses. Their heart! Their spirit!