Churchill Downs suspended horse racing this weekend because officials could not prove that the venue was responsible for the deaths of 12 horses there this year. The Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association has the right logic. While it may sound like an amusement-park owner saying, "Nothing here to see" as children are launched from the Tilt -O-Whirl ride, this logic is correct.
Rick, I agree. There's no guarantee that moving to the Churchill Downs-owned Ellis Park, Ky. location will prevent any more deaths or euthanizations. The only way to stop racing is to stop it at all tracks until the sport can find a way to reduce or eliminate the pile of corpses at the end of each season.
For obvious reasons, it's impossible to determine the number of equine deaths per year. A study that was objective would be as unpopular as if scientists had been able to examine the Second Amendment or social media. We all know why these studies will never be conducted.
"Follow the Money" is not just advice Jodie Foster gives Denzel in Inside Man or what Deepthroat shouts to Robert Redford in All the President's Men. It's the scariest thing a politician could hear. And it probably scares more people in power than even the most cynical Americans can imagine.
Churchill Downs and Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority announced changes to discourage trainers from running unsound animals. This is a good start. The top five finishers, not the entire field, will be paid. Ineligibility standards were introduced for poor performance. This means that animals that have been beaten by 12 lengths or more in five consecutive races will need to be cleared to race by the equine director. The number of rolling starts in an eight-week period is also capped at 4.
Horse racing is synonymous with gambling. You should be able to understand what I am saying since it is a sport that is too lucrative and too far gone to be truly regulated. The sport has become too lucrative and too advanced to be regulated.
Hiles' comments regarding Churchill Downs's decision were clear when he said, "We should discuss allowing trainers to use therapeutic medication that greatly reduces the risk of breakdowns."
It sounds like all the Kentucky Horsemen care about is their own pockets. "Therapeutic medication that greatly reduces the risk of breakdowns?" Why don't we cybernetically strengthen their legs, or splice their genetic code with a rhino? Do you want to give these animals more syringes? It's 2023. Technology is supposed to advance society, not reinforce its worst ideas.
Churchill Downs has made a very smart, shrewd move and is getting the desired reaction from the public. Deadline claimed that the venue was "shutting down" but don't let them fool you. It's not being destroyed as I jokingly suggested during my last diatribe. This is a temporary measure done with good intention until it threatens the 150th Kentucky Derby in May.