Today in My History
Cast (updated 7/16)
September 4, 2020
This weekend is the Kentucky Derby, the first race in the "triple crown" -- The Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes, the Belmont being the longest and most difficult of the three. This year, because of the Coronavirus, the Belmont was already run in June and the Preakness will be run in October. The Derby, noted for the fancy hats women wear and the mint juleps everyone drinks, will have no audience this year.
I was in the fourth grade when I was introduced to horses when my friend Stephen loaned me his book, "The Black Stallion." I loved it and went on to read all of author Walter Farley's books. I loved the story of Alec Ramsey, the young boy stranded on a deserted island with a wild Arabian stallion and how they became friends.
I learned about horse racing (I thought) as Alec and the Black are rescued and brought to New York where, eventually the Black runs a special race, which he wins.
Most of The Black series of books have a lot about horse racing in them and I became a fan of horse racing. I was jealous that my grammar school friend Marie had been born at Tanforan race track (having no notion that the reason she was born there was that she was Japanese and she and her mother were interned there during World War II).
Walt and I watch the Triple Crown each year.
Then I read "Saving Baby: How One Woman's Love for a Racehorse Led to Her Redemption," by JoAnne Normile, Lawrence Linder, and Susan Richards and learned more about racing than I ever knew.
JoAnne Normile had wanted horses all of her life, and finally had them. Because of an agreement with the real owner of her horse, Baby (whom she raised since birth and had a very special bond with), JoAnne got involved in the racing world, helping Baby fulfill his genetic destiny. But when Baby was injured in completely preventable freak accident during a race and had to be put down, JoAnne began to learn the dark side of racing--what happens with all those horses that are "retired," the slaughterhouse companies who pick them up, and the horror they endure before their final death.
Horses injured on the track are put down on the track or sent to a slaughterhouse. Sometimes horses are slaughtered just for losing a race because they are too expensive to keep if they aren't bringing in win money. Horses may die because of drugs given to them to help their performance.
In what other sport are…
Starting small, Normile began "re-homing" those injured race horses and ultimately founded CANTER, a Michigan-based organization that helped save horses from the nightmare of the slaughterhouse. Now CANTER is a nation wide, thriving non-profit business which has saved thousands of horses from painful deaths. She started a web site, Horseracing Wrongs with shocking information about horse racing.
The page on the deaths of horses in 2020 alone is mind-blowing.
I can't watch horse racing with the
same enjoyment any more. I still watch the races, but now I feel guilty
when I do.
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This is entry #7466