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Why Horseracing is Not Baseball

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Why Horseracing is Not Baseball

By Patrick Battuello, In Behalf of Animals
September 2012

Growing up an ardent baseball fan, there was almost nothing as exciting as following a hot young prospect from the minors to “The Show.” For me, one such ballplayer was Eric Davis of the Cincinnati Reds. The prototypical “five-tool guy,” Davis was an exceptional talent, and it was difficult to contain MVP, even Hall of Fame, hopes after his breakout season of 1986. But injuries intervened, and though he would go on to a nice 17-year career, much of his vast promise went unrealized. In baseball parlance, we call this sad and lament what could have been.

Spurious Precision was an Eric Davis-like Thoroughbred racehorse. Fresh off a two-for-two performance in Saratoga (to the tune of $168,000), the two-year-old suffered the following calamity September 18th while training for Belmont’s Grade 1 Champagne Stakes (as told by veterinarian Patricia Hogan in The Blood-Horse, 9/19/12):

Unfortunately, he shattered the two major weight-bearing bones of his knee, as well as incurring several other smaller fractures of the lesser-supporting bones, thus rendering the knee unstable and unable to support his frame. Heroic surgical measures were considered, but humane euthanasia was ultimately the only appropriate option for this type of injury.

Catastrophic breakdown. Pentobarbital. Dead at two. His owner’s (and trainer’s) dreams dashed in an instant.

This is a tale of two professional sports and the extraordinary competitors we so greatly admire. The first, major league baseball, America’s game, has seen one on-field death (Ray Chapman, 1920) in its 136-year history; Davis, the player in this case, was a willing (and highly paid) participant pursuing his own path to fame and glory. The other, horseracing, recorded 165 track fatalities last year. Just in New York. Spurious Precision (and his 113 comrades in 2012) was, the racing industry would have us believe, an exquisite athlete who, like Eric Davis, ran into some misfortune along the way. Problem is, his misfortune was not measured in time on the “Disabled List.” And the (truly) tragic ruse of horseracing continues…