The Santa Anita racetrack in California is one of the most popular racetracks in the world. It hosts the Santa Anita Derby and is one of the most beautiful racetracks in the world. It has been, however, under strong scrutiny since December 2018. During that period, up to today, 34 horses died at the Santa Anita racetrack, from various reasons. People have started protesting outside the Santa Anita racetrack, and demonstrators often clash with the racetrack officials. What is going on at the racetrack, why are so many horses dying?
The Nature of the Sport – It’s Dangerous
Horses, like humans, running fast and taking their bodies to the limit, might end up giving up their lives for the performance and the medal. Well, horses often do not have that drive, but are driven by humans. If a human takes performance enhancers, or simply put, drugs, in order to be better, it often leaves a toll which is later paid. Some people pay that toll with their lives, as do the horses. In horse racing, however, when a horse is seriously injured, from all the high-speed racing, they are often euthanised.
The Surface – A Bad Surface Leads to Deaths
When a surface on which the races are held is bad, horses get injured, as do the jockeys. Santa Anita has a dirt race track and a turf on which the horses train. Out of 34 deaths, 7 happened on the race track during competitions, 9 on the dirt track and the rest on the turf track. Scientists determined that a synthetic race track provided the horses with the best and safest surface to race on. Santa Anita has yet to replace their dirt tracks with synthetic ones.
Drugs – Drugs Kill People and Horses
Performance enhancers of all sorts don’t often mix well with one another. A body can only take so much abuse before breaking. Horses at the Santa Anita racetrack also died of a heart attack. It is notable that a breeder noticed that heart attacks are very uncommon, them seeing only another one, some 40 years prior to this one. Two horses died in an accident where one of the horses threw the rider off and ran head first into another horse, killing both.
The Future of Horse Racing – How Far Can It Go?
Horses often die during races and some of them die prematurely given the average lifespan of a horse. Horse racing is dangerous as the limits are pushed much further than it is healthy. With that in mind, horse racing needs to meet some safety and health regulations. The Santa Anita racetrack is a perfect example of how not to approach horse racing safely.