First let me say, as a previous owner of three greyhounds (simultaneously!), two of whom were retired off a race track in Arizona, I think I can declare my understanding and empathy with animals bred for the amusement and financial enrichment of their owners. It sucks!
I don't know what they do with retired race horses, particularly those who aren't very good, who don't earn their owners money by winning races, but I know what they did with greyhounds before caring people stepped in. Slow dogs were "retired" and, most often, destroyed. Now, if lucky - thanks to people who care enough to spare them, they are adopted out to loving homes. But it wasn't always that way. And I'm not satisfied with that as a solution. Dog racing needs to be stopped.
But back to my painting. While up under the eaves, someone called into the talk show I happened to be listening to addressing this past weekend's Kentucky Derby which saw the demise of Eight Belles before the eyes of thousands present after she broke down just after crossing the finish line in second place. Talking like a Chuco, the caller wanted to know...
"Yo, what's the deal with the horse they destroyed?"
"Michael Vick is in jail for dog fighting, dude!"
"And some of my bros from the 'hood are behind bars for cock fighting man," he said. "What's with that? We eat those birds on Sunday for dinner."
Point well taken. Seems a little like a class thing, doesn't it"? Because the owners and trainers of those magnificent thoroughbred horses continue to operate despite the cruelty exhibited with the break down of Eight Belles, a prized "possession" stressed beyond her natural capabilities who had to be destroyed.
Apparently it's more common then we know as I learned after hearing this evening's excellent PBS Lehrer Report debate on horse racing. See, Eight Belles wasn't the only casualty from this weekend down in Kentucky. As we learned, another, a four year old, broke down on Friday. His chances of survival? Fifty-fifty!
Larry Jones, Eight Belles trainer said after losing his horse, "These THINGS are our family, you know. We put everything into 'em we have, and they given us everything they have. They put their life on the damn line here, ah, and she was glad to do it." (Emphasis mine.)
The debate that ensued was unsettling. That's because sports writer for the Washington Post, Andrew Beyer, who argued racing is not animal cruel, delineated just about every reason racing should be drastically changed, if not totally eliminated.
But sadly, Beyer could not bring himself to admit the breeding of horses for greater speed on spindlier and spindlier legs, increasing the likelihood for breakdowns like the tragic two this weekend at Churchill Downs, is animal cruelty.
As Eight Belle's trainer reminded us after she was destroyed, "She was glad to do it!" [sic]