DawnWatch: Barbaro dies – a look at horseracing in the New York Times editorial 1/30/07

January 30th, 2007 10:38 pm by Kelly Garbato

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From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
Date: Jan 30, 2007 5:06 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: Barbaro dies – a look at horseracing in the New York Times editorial 1/30/07

Barbaro was euthanized yesterday, Monday January 29, eight months after suffering grave injury at The Preakness. His injury brought world-wide media attention and an outpouring of emotion since he had won the Kentucky Derby and looked like he could possibly win the Triple Crown.

The story is in every paper. The New York Times has run a sensitive editorial headed, “One Horse Dies” (January 30, pg 20).

It opens:

“Why should we feel so much grief at the loss of one horse? After all, this is a world in which horses are sacrificed again and again for the sport of humans. Barbaro was euthanized yesterday, eight months after he shattered his right hind leg at the start of the Preakness Stakes. After an injury like that, most racehorses would have been put down minutes later. But every race is a complex equation — a balance of economics, athleticism, equine grace and conscience. Conscience often comes in last, but not in this case. Barbaro’s owners gave that horse exactly what he had given them, which is everything. It was the very least they could do, and yet it seemed truly exceptional in a sport that is as often barbarous as it is beautiful.”

It discusses Barbaro’s grace, and comments, “And if his life caused us to pay attention to the possibilities of all horses, his death should cause us to pay attention to the tragedy inherent in the end of so many horses. Barbaro’s death was tragic not because it was measured against the races he might have won or even against the effort to save his life. It was tragic because of what every horse is.

“You would have to look a long, long time to find a dishonest or cruel horse.”

The piece ends referring to the “generosity of conscience — a human quality, after all — that was expended in the effort to save this one horse.”

You’ll find the New York Times editorial on line here.

One or two other articles have noted that Barbaro’s estimated worth as a breeding stud was in the realm of $30 million. That may or may not have been a consideration that affected the efforts to save him. Given that according to an Associated Press article published last year, approximately 700 horses are put down in the United States and Canada every year after racing accidents, presumably all of them as sweet-hearted as Barbaro, one cannot help but wonder if Barbaro’s monetary value might have had some influence on the extent of the efforts to save his life. His tale should remind us of all of the others that nobody attempted to save.

A good place to learn more about the racing industry is from the fact sheet: “The Horseracing Industry: Drugs, Deception and Death” on line here.

Please take Barbaro’s sad fate as an opportunity to make the public aware of the dark side of the racing industry. You can write to the New York Times at letters [at] nytimes.com but since this story is in every paper, it would be even better to send a letter to your local paper where it has the best chance of getting published. Some of the small papers publish close to 100% of the letters they receive. If you have any trouble finding the email address for a letter to your editor, feel free to ask me for help. And I am always happy to edit letters.

Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Remember that shorter letters are more likely to be published. And please be sure not to use any exact comments or phrases from me or from any other alerts in your letters. Editors are looking for original responses from their readers.

Yours and the animals’,
Karen Dawn

(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. You may forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts if you do so unedited — leave DawnWatch in the title and include this parenthesized tag line.)

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