Readers React: The deaths at Santa Anita might kill horse racing before it has a chance to reform

Samples and measurements are taken on the sand race track at Santa Anita Park on March 7.
(Frederic J. Brown / AFP/Getty Images)

To the editor: There are ways to address the horrendous increase in horse deaths at Santa Anita Park, but they would require the entire racing industry to be completely upended.

If the gods of racing were not pure speed and pure greed, it might be possible to change the rules so that fewer horses are fatally injured.

Currently horses are ridden and worked much too young and way too hard. They are given too many drugs to mask chronic inflammation, pain and skeletal and soft-tissue injuries sustained in the course of racing and training. These small injuries eventually lead to catastrophic ones.

If horses were started later, stressed less and given layup time to heal and not given the cornucopia of medications they get now, their bodies might hold up and the death rate could decrease. But the devastating optics of so many deaths so quickly at Santa Anita might bring about the death of the horse racing industry.


Penelope Burley, Santa Rosa Valley, Calif.


To the editor: Most countries outlaw the racing of horses that are being medicated.

American thoroughbreds have been able to race fewer and fewer times since the epidemic of drug abuse began years ago. Their bodies can’t take it. Now they are dying.


Horses are beautiful and intelligent animals. Let’s outlaw all drug use (sick horses should be able to get medicine under the condition that they cannot race for a year) or outlaw this cruel pseudo-sport completely.

Bob Snodgrass, Pasadena

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