Sports Law Blog
All things legal relating
to the sports world...
Sunday, May 04, 2008
They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

At Saturday's "dramatic" Kentucky derby, runner-up Eight Bells broke both ankles and had to be put down.

Two years ago, when Barbaro suffered the injury that eventually ended his life, I asked, Was Barbaro Abused?

Imagine if every year, one player died in the Superbowl. Or if a player died every year during the NBA finals. Would we tolerate such a result? Should it matter that the athletes who are pushed beyond the quite literal breaking point are animals?

In fact, Kentucky has a "cruelty to animals" statute. Under the law, a person is guilty of a second degree misdemeanor if "he intentionally or wantonly...subjects any animal to cruel neglect or . . . kills any animal." Is it not possible to argue that pushing horses beyond their physical limits, causing their death, meets the statutory standard here? The statute provides immunity for euthanizing suffering animals, but I'm not asking if the euthanasia is illegal; rather I think the sport of horse racing itself -- at least as it seems to be run these days -- is a crime!


PETA files claim...

On a side note, the PETA representative apparently does not know the difference between a colt and filly..."What we really want to know, did he feel anything along the way?" PETA spokeswoman Kathy Guillermo said.

Anonymous William -- 5/04/2008 11:57 PM  

I feel that saying horse racing is a crime is a bit of a strong comment. Particularly because that means we are separating the good horse exhibitions (horse showing and Equestrian activities) from the bad (racing). When in fact it is all the same thing, watching an animal at the peak of its breed perform against other animals that are at the pinnacle. In essence we probably watch the horse racing for the same reason we watch the NBA finals or Superbowl, watch the best play the best.

If the farmers and trainers who raise and train these horses need a way to separate these specimens from the other animals in the same breed, this seems like a good enough way to do it.

The real crime is how horse tracks slip under the radar when discussions on gambling are started.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 5/05/2008 2:14 AM  

1. Horses love to run. It's what they evolved to do.
2. These horses are treated very well, probably better than some NFL/NBA players, and certainly better than minor league baseball players.
3. There's no evidence this horse was actually pushed beyond its limits.
4. (a) Horses aren't people.
(b)Thousands of people die in worse conditions than this everyday
5. In conclusion, if you're doing what you like to do, being treated well, and there's no evidence you were pushed beyond your limits, then falling in the heat of competition is a noble end, not some animal rights atrocity. Further, the "would we tolerate this if it were people" argument is a non-starter. Yes, and we do. Watch the nightly news.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 5/05/2008 9:40 AM  


Good post.

What do you mean..."As least as it seems to be run these days is a crime"?

Anonymous Anonymous -- 5/05/2008 10:23 AM  

Actually asking what if one player died at the Super Bowl each year doesn't match the real frequency seen at the Derby. The Derby field is just over 20, to have the same incidence level on a Super Bowl roster level would require nearly four deaths per year.

Blogger Mark -- 5/05/2008 11:21 AM  

free bet

thats was just sad man, i saw the whole thing, too much drama for me

Blogger Free Bet -- 5/05/2008 12:13 PM  

I can't confirm the accuracy of these points, as I only heard them on the radio and I haven't been able to verify them as facts, but:

The trainer interviewed stated that a lot of these injuries could have been prevented if the horses were allowed to mature for an additional year, only racing horses age 3 and above as opposed to 2 years which is the current minimum.

The trainer also stated that many tracks are in poor condition and that this contribute to the risk of injury.

Futhermore, she stated that a simultanious break of both ankles is almost impossible without one going bad and the other breaking as a result of this.

Like I said, this is just secondhand and I haven't verified the accuracy.

But, if true, there should be some liability to go around. If you push to hard knowing the horse is injured, that is abuse!

Same goes for the racetrack operators, if the racing surface poses a hightened risk of injury, there should be liability.

I'm not saying that all racing is abuse per se. In my view, we shouldn't apply a negligence standard, but perhaps a reckless or wilful standard. Where there is misconduct that lead to an activity that is inherently dangerous to the animal, the cruelty statute should definately be enforced.

Blogger Jimmy H -- 5/05/2008 12:54 PM  

This is the first time in at least 40 years (and possibly ever) that a horse has died in the Kentucky Derby. How does that compare to the death of one player "each year" in the Super Bowl??

Anonymous Anonymous -- 5/09/2008 8:18 AM  

This is the typical comment by people who do not follow horse racing. The main issue with injuries in horse racing has to do with breeding. There was a very interesting piece in the WSJ on Friday, before the race. Horses have been breed for speed and to look good in the show ring instead of durability. There is too much inbreeding. The sport needs to look at introducing a new line into the blood. The number of starts horses make per year has been declining for years due to durability issues. The Native Dancer line featuring muscularity and speed is beneficial for American racing but his inherited traits of bad legs is damaging.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 5/11/2008 7:39 PM  

A. Your comment/scenario about a player dying every year in the Super Bowl is a bit of an exaggeration, no?

B. Even if you are correct and the statute you cited would apply to horse racing, you offer absolutely no evidence of abuse.

Nothing but hot air.

You must be a trial lawyer.

Blogger Lil John's Pimp Cup -- 5/14/2008 9:01 PM  

couldn't agree more with the query or likely answer to the question which is "yes" These horses are being abused in the training and preparation for running the race- and in the waning days up to saturday's Belmont, with Big Brown running despite a cracked hoof- well, I think we have ample support for that answer- let's just hope it isn't in the form of another euthanization.

Blogger Behr Greer -- 5/30/2008 3:24 PM  

Good post

Anonymous Mike -- 6/05/2008 10:21 AM  

If you are looking wow power leveling, buy warcraft gold as well as WOW Power Leveling and World Of wow levelingWhen you need someone to listen,FFXI Gil, I'll be there. When you need a hug, cheap FFXI Gil,I'll be there. When you need someone to hold your hand, I'll be there. When you need someone to wipe your tears, guess what? I'll be there. William Shakespeare

Blogger dghnfgj -- 2/07/2009 3:08 AM  

Post a Comment