Rhoden: Race Horses ‘Involuntary Participants In A Tough Sport’

by | 06.14.2016 | 2:59pm

In his “Sports of the Times” column in the Sunday New York Times, columnist William C. Rhoden offered his unvarnished perspective on the state of horse racing in the U.S.

Without what he called the “distraction of a Triple Crown or even a rematch” of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winners, Rhoden said “the racing industry has had to look in the mirror. What it sees is still not pretty. The systemic problems that existed before the Triple Crown have not gone away.”

Rhoden wrote of horses “dropping dead on the track as unscrupulous trainers, under pressure to produce, continue to administer harmful drugs, threatening the sport's already fragile credibility.”

Quoting from a recently published book written by Humane Society of the United States executive Wayne Pacelle, Rhoden said that “businesses that do not adjust to consumer concerns about the treatment of animals are doomed.”

Two businesses that have adjusted, Rhoden writes, are Ringling Brothers circus, which has retired its elephant herd, and SeaWorld, which is ending its captive breeding program.

“Everything is changing,” Pacelle told Rhoden, “yet horse racing is still resisting reform. There has to be a correction.”

Rhoden cited the Thoroughbred Horse Racing Anti-Doping Act of 2015, which would put the United States Anti-Doping Agency in charge of horse racing's drug policies. The bill is supported by The Jockey Club, among others, but as that organization's president James Gagliano said: “Change is always hard for some to contemplate.”

“We write quite a bit about the danger of participating in high-risk sports and recreational pursuits,” said Rhoden. “Human beings take risks, whether we're jumping out of planes, climbing mountains, playing football or boxing. We go into them, more or less, with our eyes open. But race horses are involuntary participants in a tough sport; they need protection now more than ever.”

Read more at New York Times

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