CALDWELL: ‘Horse capital’ can help California

Published 11:09 am Thursday, January 23, 2020

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Deep in horse country here, we should all be appalled by what is happening at Santa Anita Racetrack in California.

Although it may not get the headlines of other big sports stories, racing enthusiasts and casual observers alike need to pay attention to the tragedy going on out on the West Coast.

Last week, this racetrack had three horses die in as many days, bringing the total to five since the day after Christmas. You may remember 37 horses died or were euthanized at this track in 2019.

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Clearly, something is wrong.

Let me be very transparent. What I know about horseracing could probably fit in the front pocket of a jockey-sized pair of pants.

I can tell you the three races that make up the Triple Crown and I can offer up a few names of legendary horses including Secretariat, Man o’ War, California Chrome and maybe a few more.

But you don’t have to be a renowned horse trainer like Bob Baffert to know this volume of fatalities and injuries simply is unacceptable.

This may have always been the somewhat seedy underbelly of the sport. If so, now is time to illuminate it.

Now is the time to fix it.

The causes of these fatalities may be as diverse as the solutions needed. But the bottom line is something has to be done.

First, we have to identify what it is about this track and others that are causing these catastrophic injuries so frequently and what appears to be disproportionate to other tracks.

Second, just because a horse may no longer have a future as a top contender doesn’t mean it needs to go on to that great pasture in the sky.

I know, medically, it can be difficult to save a horse that has a broken leg. But we’ve put a man on the moon, cured unspeakable diseases and created computers we hold in the palm of our hands. Surely, we can find a solution for this.

There has to be opportunities to save these majestic animals lives while bolstering a wide variety of equestrian programs across the country.

To simply chalk this up as acceptable losses and reasonable collateral damage of a beloved sport to so many here in the Bluegrass and beyond is a disservice to horse racing and all those with a passion for it.

Experts in this multi-billion dollar industry need to acknowledge this is a problem.

It is critical for the future of the sport and the future of the equine athletes that make it run.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Jessamine Journal and Jessamine Life magazine. He can be reached at (859) 759-0095 or by email at