Santa Anita's rash of equine fatalities has not only rocked the horse racing world — it's attracting attention outside of it, too.
The track's indefinite closure made headlines in state and regional newspapers and got a mention on the ESPN news ticker Tuesday night. Sports Illustrated ran a brief video report on the situation Wednesday, questioning whether horse racing should be abolished altogether.
“I have no idea why horse racing is still a thing,” said Sports Illustrated host Robin Lundberg. “You're talking about this particular course['s fatality rate] since Christmas. That is remarkable and appalling but that's not isolated. Hundreds of horses die every year due to horse racing, whether it's a broken leg and they're euthanized or collapsing after exerting themselves to exhaustion.
“I just don't understand why something that clearly takes a toll on these animals and costs them their lives is continuing because people like to place little bets at the racetrack.”
Lundberg acknowledged the often-cited response from racing's supporters that horses love to race and questioned why, if that were the case, they needed to be whipped during races.
Fellow SI anchor Amy Campbell agreed with Lundberg, calling the sport “antiquated.”
Watch the clip at Sports Illustrated Now
Elsewhere, the Humane Society of the United States distributed a statement to national media describing the organization's outlook on Santa Anita's closure.
“The Humane Society of the United States is deeply concerned about the deaths of 21 racehorses since December 26 at the Santa Anita racetrack. We support and applaud the decision by The Stronach Group to indefinitely shut down racing as they investigate the causes of these deaths and to hire external experts to review the racing surfaces and all other aspects that may impact the health and safety of racehorses. We've long recognized that some in the industry are trying to address the welfare of racehorses by making changes to reduce the number of racehorses going to slaughter, and working with us to secure reintroduction and passage of the federal Horseracing Integrity Act to address doping problems, ban race-day medication, and substantially increase out-of-competition testing. We hope that Congress recognizes this act of leadership by Santa Anita as a desire for change, change that requires an act of Congress to make.”
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