Following the dust stirred up by PETA and the national outrage about the very public death of Eight Belles from two snapped ankle bones, our appeals to the horseracing industry to make far-reaching changes in its practices have begun to have a noticeable effect. An article in The Wall Street Journal today quoted Alex Waldrop, the president of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) as saying, “It is clear that the status quo is not an option. We have to stop identifying problems and start implementing solutions.”
Which, well, Amen to that. Some changes have already begun to be implemented, including a prominent horse auction company which has “instructed agents and breeders to discourage jockeys from whipping horses during a coming sales show,” citing the negative press generated by animal rights organizations as its reason for implementing the policy. What goes on behind the scenes, from whipping to doping, is another matter. Time will tell if major changes are adopted by the NTRA, and how effective and far-reaching they are, but the grave concerns about the long list of cruel and shady practices of this dirty industry—which PETA has been raising for decades—are finally beginning to be addressed.
It’s certainly too bad that it took another death of a popular horse during a televised racing event to scare the industry into recognizing that people are leaving the track in droves, but we’ll call this “better late than never” and keep our eyes firmly on the industry to ensure that these promises are more than just talk.