Re: Racing economics (617 Views)
Posted by: BitPlayer
Date: June 25, 2019 10:04AM
Interesting post. I think any serious discussion of improving equine safety and welfare has to focus eventually on economics. The claiming game seems like it is essentially a game of hot potato. Take the case of Kochees, who was claimed by Hollendorfer and eventually broke down while racing at Santa Anita. A CNN article featured the following from the prior owner of Kochees:
Herbertson says he was about to give the 8-year-old horse -- a veteran in racing terms -- a break but decided to enter him in the claiming race in November. "He definitely had some nicks and needed time off," Herbertson told CNN.
What the article does not mention is that Herbertson entered Kochees for $25K after racing him for 62.5K and 32K in his prior three races. Sounds to me like he was trying to rid himself of the hot potato. Hollendorfer bit.
Less attention-grabbing than the issue of on-track fatalities is the issue of after care. What happens to all the horses who don't break down, but simply bow a tendon or cannot withstand the rigors of training? It would be nice to think that they all find other occupations or at least a healthy farm life, but I doubt that is the case.
It seems to me that there needs to be a secure outlet for horses that have reached the end of their racing days, so that the last owner is not faced with either being stuck with a hot potato or taking steps that put the horse in jeopardy. Perhaps there needs to be a requirement that thoroughbreds have the equivalent of prepaid long-term care insurance in order to be registered. Putting this cost at the beginning of a horse's life rather than at the end would have the direct or indirect effect of shifting some of the burden to breeders and pinhookers, who I assume are actually profiting from the game. It would also probably have the effect of reducing the foal crop and, indirectly, the number of races that are run, which I think is inevitable.