Barbaro, one of the many horses who died for the “sport of kings”
After three deaths on the set of Luck, HBO pulled the plug on the TV drama. But as Hal Herzog notes in his column this week:
In California alone, 261 thoroughbreds died in track-related injuries in 2007. And between 2003 and 2008, more than 5,000 horses died at American racetracks — nearly three animals per day. In short, the deaths of horses on the HBO set were not just predictable, they were inevitable.
And today, the Associated Press reports more deaths at the racetrack:
Last week, five horses died in the first two days of the UK’s Cheltenham Festival steeplechase. Outrage erupted, as it had after previous multiple deaths in the prestigious meet, but it’s yet to be scuttled.
And last week’s toll is by no means abnormal:
Two horses died in Britain’s Grand National steeplechase meet last year, and four the year before, but the April event will proceed as it has since the 1830s. The 2008 Kentucky Derby euthanasia of a captivating filly, Eight Belles, clouded but didn’t derail the event that marks its 137th running in May.
Whether you’re betting on horses at the track or watching other people doing it on TV, it’s all the same to the horses who die for our entertainment.
Like other “traditions” that exploit animals, from dog-fighting to rodeos, it’s time to bring this whole sorry show to an end.