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    HORSE RACING ACTION ALERT Source: Rabbitwise This week on the Jim Lehrer News hour, two journalists, Andrew Beyer from The Washington Post, and William Rhoden
    Message 1 of 1 , May 7, 2008
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      Source: Rabbitwise

      This week on the Jim Lehrer News hour, two journalists, Andrew Beyer
      from The Washington Post, and William Rhoden of The New York Times
      (Rhoden's article about the topic copied below) were interviewed
      about looking at horse racing as cruelty to animals. Beyer denied
      that it was animal cruelty and charged Rhoden of being an "animal
      rights extremist." He also stated that he didn't believe that
      people really cared about it. Let's advise Mr. Beyer to the


      Please write to The Washington Post to inform Mr. Bayer that people
      do care:

      WP ombudsman (Deborah Howell): ombudsman@...
      WP Letters to the Editor: letters@... (washpost.com)
      WP Sports: sports@... (washpost.com)

      Beyer himself doesn't have an e-mail contact listed. No surprise

      You also may want to thank Rhoden for his support of the horses:
      wcr@... (nytimes.com)

      Race Illustrates Brutal Side of Sport
      Published: May 4, 2008
      Louisville, Ky.

      Why do we keep giving thoroughbred horse racing a pass? Is it the
      tradition? The millions upon millions invested in the betting?

      Why isn't there more pressure to put the sport of kings under the
      umbrella of animal cruelty?

      The sport is at least as inhumane as greyhound racing and only a
      couple of steps removed from animal fighting.

      Is it the fact that horse racing is imbedded in the American fabric?
      And the Triple Crown is a nationally televised spectacle? Or is it
      the fact that death on the track is rarely seen by a mainstream
      television audience?

      The sentiment was summed up by Dr. Larry Bramlage on Saturday when,
      asked about fillies racing against colts, he said, "One death is not
      an epidemic."

      But this isn't about one death. This is about the nature of a sport
      that routinely grinds up young horses.

      A national audience was exposed to the bittersweet experience of a
      tremendous victory by Big Brown and -- moments later -- the stunning
      news that Eight Belles had been euthanized. As we watched Big
      Brown's owner celebrate the unmitigated joy of winning the Derby, we
      watched Bramlage describe the details of Eight Belles's horrible
      death: She had completed the race, finishing a heroic second to Big
      Brown. She was around the turn at the start of the backstretch when
      her front ankles collapsed.

      Bramlage described the sickening image of what had happened: a
      condylar fracture on the left side and the left front that opened
      the skin, went through it and was contaminated.

      "She didn't have a front leg to stand on to be splinted and hauled
      off in the ambulance, so she was immediately euthanized," Bramlage

      And that was that.

      After the race, Larry Jones, Eight Belles's trainer, choked back
      tears as he answered questions about the filly's death. But even
      through the grief, Jones instinctively toed the industry line about
      racing. He discounted the notion -- and veiled criticism -- that the
      dirt surface might have contributed to her death. He also refused to
      concede the point that horse racing is an extremely dangerous sport,
      saying that these types of injuries occur in any sport.

      Within the racing industry, Eight Belles was a tragic but glorious
      casualty. The industry is in denial: racing grinds up horses, and we
      dress up the sport with large hats, mint juleps and string bands.

      Why do we refuse to put the brutal game of racing in the realm of
      mistreatment of animals? At what point do we at least raise the
      question about the efficacy of thousand-pound horses racing at full
      throttle on spindly legs?

      This is bullfighting.

      Eight Belles was another victim of a brutal sport that is carried,
      literally, on the backs of horses. Horsemen like to talk about their
      thoroughbreds and how they were born to run and live to run. The
      reality is that they are made to run, forced to run for profits they
      never see.

      On Saturday, it was Eight Belles in Louisville. Two years ago, it
      was Barbaro in Baltimore, with a misstep at the Preakness. And who
      knows how many horses die anonymous deaths? Eight Belles, we'll
      write, was merely the casualty of a brutal game.

      But one death is too many. The miracle of the sport of kings is that
      there aren't more. But how many more do we need?

      Before Saturday's race, I walked over to the stable where Michael
      Matz was preparing Visionaire for the Derby. Matz was the trainer of
      Barbaro, the superhorse who won here in 2006 and took that fatal
      misstep two weeks later at the Preakness. On Friday, one of Matz's
      horses, Chelokee, sustained a condylar fracture of the cannon bone
      in his right front leg during the running of the Alysheba Stakes at
      Churchill Downs.

      The initial report was that the injury was of the same nature as
      Barbaro's, and that Chelokee had a fractured ankle. The reports were
      inaccurate, but I wondered what thoughts had gone through Matz's

      "I just ran out there to see how he was doing," he said. Barbaro
      hadn't crossed his mind, he said, just this horse at this time. That
      was all. Matz talked briefly about Barbaro, about why the image
      remains so fresh in our minds. Then he excused himself. "I have to
      get my horse ready for this race," he said.

      John Stephens broke in Barbaro and Visionaire when they were
      yearlings. Stephens was in Baltimore when Barbaro took the misstep.
      That experience, he said, has tempered, if not changed, his
      perspective on horse racing.

      "I want my horse to win -- I'm not going to kid you," he said. "But
      not at all costs. I don't want any horse to get injured. I want
      everyone to have a good trip. I want everybody to come back home."

      The words haunted me as I left the stable and echoed as I saw Eight
      Belles in a heap. Thoroughbred racing is a brutal sport. Why do we
      keep giving it a pass?

      E-mail: wcr@... (nytimes.com)
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