They weigh more than 1,000 pounds, are supported by ankles the size of a human’s, and are whipped and forced to run around tracks that are often made of hard-packed dirt at speeds of more than 30 miles per hour while carrying people on their backs. Racehorses are the victims of a multi-billion-dollar industry that is rife with drug abuse, injuries, and race fixing, and many horses’ careers end at the slaughterhouse. — PETA

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Why we should know better than to keep racing horses.

By Andrew J. Pridgen

Today, the annual sea of pasty privilege sweeps through The South drenched in ridiculous hats and third-world child-stitched Lilly Pulitzer for fucking Target. The unfazed one percent and their surrogates on the infield lawn will drown their cares in a sour mash- and Julep-induced haze. They’ll mingle and cheer for drugged-up steeds to be whipped into submission—without the benefit of getting to ride in Christian Grey’s helicopter—at Churchill Downs Saturday afternoon.

The Kentucky Derby is truly criminal act against horse and humanity. Even if it weren’t, is another red-faced cracker owner his gills puffed with entitlement—all foment and tinny breath and spittle fleck—in need of airtime just because his horse didn’t show?

Unlike other athletes engaged in blood sport to entertain those who love to take away healthcare, for their part, the horses have about as much say in the matter as a male factory chicken does whether it’s going to get ground up or suffocated to death.

That the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby still plays to a sold-out if not flavorless crowd to the warble of “My Old Kentucky Home” is an affront.

Beyond the curated images of how we think the past should’ve been and the present should be, is a stunning tapestry of hypocrisy.

America’s oldest and most brutal sport—horses more powerful than locomotives steaming to their literal deaths (an estimated three thoroughbreds die every day from injuries sustained during races)—is something we’ve already exposed.

We’ve seen the cover-ups uncovered. We’ve been outraged. We’ve accepted the fact that even the best horses, when they stop winning races, are not romantically put out to pasture to live the rest of their days neath spiraling oaks sipping from a clacking stream, but sold to slaughterhouses north or south of the border where they are turned into dog food and glue.

Do yourself a favor and before you dress up like a natty Boss Hogg or a mini Minnie Pearl tomorrow and take a gander at this video:

As for horse racing’s overall status, trends are looking favorable for the immoral act to eventually die.

Wagering is off, sort of (money bet on horses in North America is estimated to be less than S10 billion this year down from $15.5 billion in 2007) and its elite have come under fire: Super trainer Steve Asmussen (second-most career victories) remains under federal investigation for various forms of animal abuse, including but not limited to injecting performance-enhancing drugs into his animals and outfitting his jockeys with electric prods to make his equine athletes go faster.

If there is a hell and the devil is of the four-legged variety, eternity is going to last a long, long time for Mr. Asmussen as he receives “therapy shock treatment” in his genitals until the end of time.

While many trainers and vets associated with the sport are now making records available before stakes races, there is no effective regulatory body in the sport and nothing but the word of the owners and their associates whose own fortunes depend on that mile and a quarter Saturday to keep it honest.

My solution is this: Run the Kentucky Derby, but do it with people. Juice up the 20 best and bravest male and female athletes in the world for a year to compete in a no-holds-barred 2k Run for the Roses. If one or two get injured, shoot them on the spot.

The winner gets to survive…and run again for the same stakes weeks later in the Preakness and Belmont. Maybe a few of the top males as reward get a sugar cube and the chance to artificially inseminate a worthy female to perpetuate the sport before they’re shipped south of the border to labor a bit as they wait to be executed and their bones ground into adhesive.

The beauty in it will be as it is today. The rest of us dressed like Easter Eggs and cheersing from the sidelines before we go back to our cubicles Monday to sit for seven hours and ensure our place in the supply chain is still secure enough to make the mortgage for one more month.

…And they’re off.

Andrew J. Pridgen helps run sister site Goner Party and is the author of the novella “Burgundy Upholstery Sky”. His first full-length novel will be released in late-2017.

Image: Getty

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