I'm home from the races. I spent all day at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas, watching some of the most beautiful creatures that have ever graced the planet.
Today was also the day for the Arkansas Derby, which included a one million dollar purse. My horse of choice, Dublin, came in third. I won more money back than I bet. But my money is not my concern.
My concern is that I saw another horse "break down" on the race track. The jockey made quite a heroic leap, high off of the foundering horse's back, over the inner fence and into the bushes near the track. I watched that poor horse try to keep running. It may have broken both of its front legs, for all I could tell. It is an awful, sickening thing to see.
I love horses. I LOVE horses! It crossed my mind again today that maybe I should boycott horse races. I listened to what people were saying while the ambulance drove onto the race track. "Number seven broke down." "I hope that man is okay?" "How much money did I win?!"
Is this a cruel sport? Are these animals mistreated? The flow of cash into this sport is the very reason these horses are bred. They wouldn't be here if people like me didn't come to the race track to place bets, drink cold beer and eat delicious corned beef sandwiches. (I know the corned beef sounds disgusting, but it is really really good!)
I asked several employees at Oaklawn if they euthanized the injured horse. An EMT slowly shook his head yes. "The reason they do that is because a horse is so heavy, he can't stay on just three of his legs. The other legs get diseased if he takes the weight off one of them."
He didn't make me feel any better. It seems like we should be able to do more than just kill a horse when it breaks a leg.