Earlier this year at California’s famed Santa Anita racetrack, one horse after another broke down and had to be euthanized. As the death toll grew into the dozens, the issue grew into a national story, with an outraged public demanding answers. Multiple investigations were opened into why so many horses went down, including one by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.
But the only thing surprising about the rash of deaths was that anyone bothered to notice. In fact, since Santa Anita started keeping records, the track has averaged 50 horse deaths a year. Worse still, those numbers hardly stand out among horseracing tracks across America. The “scandal” at Santa Anita was in fact a distraction from a vastly larger story: the fact that each year, the same thing happens to horses at many other tracks all over the country – and thousands more deemed too slow to race effectively any longer are quietly shipped off to the slaughterhouse.
This past Saturday at Santa Anita, the horse racing industry held its premiere event, The Breeders Cup, in front of 70,000 fans and a primetime audience. During the last race of the day, a horse named Mongolian Groom broke down on the track and was euthanized after hurting his leg. He was the 42nd horse to die at Santa Anita in 2019. #HBO #RealSports
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Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel: Raced to Death (Full Segment) | HBO