A reader writes:
I have never watched a minute of the HBO series "Luck," but I'm flabbergasted at how animal mortality is supposed to have any bearings on the show's demise. If that were indeed the case, then viewers are grossly misinformed as to the welfare of race horses (or greyhounds, for that matter). I know a bit about the subject, because I'm the proud owner of an ex-race horse, which I acquired for the princely sum of $300. Too slow to make money for the owner, this stately creature was left to gradually starve on far less than is needed for maintenance.
Forget about shelling out monies for vets and farriers – racing is an industry designed to make money for the owners, and if an animal doesn't hold the prospect of return of investment, then goodbye all good graces.
A quick look around at horse trader sites specializing in Thoroughbreds around the US reveals that non-performing animals are either left to literally rot, or dumped at cut-throat prices to amateurs willing to take them on for re-training in other disciplines. The number of those who will not even make it to public trading sites I can only imagine. Any flaw in conformation that limits their future use as jumpers or dressage prospects spells doom, as there is an abundance of others to choose from.
So talk about three horses being killed while the public is watching – sad, but peanuts. For the majority of horses (and greyhounds), the public is looking the other way. And 800 being killed on track doesn't reflect the true number of the ones left high and dry, with the same consequence. As long as the betting public views animals as equivalent to quarters in a slot machine, there's no cure in sight.
(Photo: A horse waits in its stable to be inspected by potential buyers at the Tattersalls Bloodstock Auctioneers on October 6, 2011 in Newmarket, England. Tattersalls was founded in 1766 and is the oldest and largest Bloodstock Auctioneers in Europe. The October Yearling Sale, the biggest sale of the year, can produce bids of up to a million pounds for a horse. By Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images.)