Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Lush Life for Kentucky Derby Horses? Don't Bet on It

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Lush Life for Kentucky Derby Horses? Don't Bet on It

Article excerpt

Viewers of Saturday's Kentucky Derby may think race horses lead lives of pampered luxury. The truth is often closer to years of abuse and a brutal end at a foreign slaughterhouse. Kentucky has too much pride to let Thoroughbreds become menu items or pet food.

Aside from Daniel Boone, George Clooney, and Loretta Lynn, Kentucky has a great deal to be proud of: majestic Cumberland Mountains, roiling Russell Fork River, cherry trees, shaker villages, fried chicken, and more artisans than you can shake a painted walking stick at.

But no emblem captures the state's beauty and spirit better than Thoroughbred horses. Across the state, you'll see horses in flesh and blood or in stone, bronze, wood, and clay. They stand in fields and shops, in restaurants and on pedestals. They are memorialized in picture frames just about everywhere you look.

Millions of Americans will watch these horses in thrilling high- definition May 7, in the flamboyant spring fiesta known as the Kentucky Derby. Casual viewers who see all the trappings of wealth at the Derby may think race horses lead lives of pampered luxury on mist-shrouded pastures of blue grass. The truth is often closer to years of abuse and a brutal end at a foreign slaughterhouse.

Get the best of Monitor opinion. Sign up for our weekly e- newsletter here.

Kentucky has too much pride in its horses to let these majestic creatures become menu items or pet food.

Thoroughbreds sustain not only their trainers, owners, veterinarians, jockeys, and blacksmiths, but everyone from the hotel bellhop to the hot-dog vendor. Yet the price the horses pay is steep.

While Thoroughbreds' life span is about 20 to 30 years, their productive span is five or six. Loud and strong on the track, they are mute and weak when it comes to pleading their own cause: funds to care for their post-race lives.

In their prime, 90 percent of them are given Phenylbutazone, "bute," which helps them race despite injuries. Possible side effects include kidney damage, internal hemorrhage, and oral lesions. Racetrack fatalities, fractures, heart attacks, and breakdowns are ever-present hazards. The tragic, postinjury euthanization of Derby racers Barbaro and Eight Belles in recent years briefly called attention to the dark side of this industry. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.