Sport Of Kings Or Pointless Slaughter For Our Amusement?

Posted: May 25, 2016

Updated: May 25, 2016

The sport of kings has been around since the very earliest of societies however as another famous race meeting is marred by the death of two horses isn’t it about time we face up to the reality that we’re needlessly killing animals for our entertainment and simply ignoring the cruelty inherent in this ongoing weekly equine massacre.

Two dead at pimlico

  • Preakness Saturday marred
  • 24 horses a week die at races
  • Time to end the slaughter?

The Preakness Stakes dates back to a few years before the far more famous Kentucky Derby, it’s run on the third Saturday of May over a nine and a half furlong dirt surface by 3 year old horses, and this year the Pimlico Race Course saw an exciting meeting and Kent Desormeaux ride Exaggerator to victory on a day that was just slightly marred by the deaths of two animals in the name of human entertainment underlining the often ignored fact that horse racing, the sport of kings, is a bloodsport.

Racing horses probably pre-dates their domestication proper. Using an animal as a beast of burden takes a little more training than simply getting it to go where you want as fast as it can, running comes naturally to horses, pulling ploughs and wagons not so much. The human love of speed being what it is the chances are the very first time two people found themselves on horses at the same time, they raced. The second time they tried it there was probably a wager involved very much akin to those available today at Betfair.

I’m gambling news that cultures throughout human history have prized horses, from nomadic tribes of Eurasia through the hoards of Genghis Khan to the cavalry that rode into combat on the Western Front of WWI less than 100 years ago, and the horse was a massive influence on human development will surprise no one. The aid it provided in terms of hunting, transportation, travel, trade, and warfare was invaluable, however those days are long gone, and the horse is no longer the catalyst of progress it once was, and the sport of kings is all that’s left.

Time To Draw The Sport Of Kings To An End?

Retained now as a keepsake, a reminder, as a piece of our past we’re unwilling to throw off because it has a heartbeat, we have taken this noble animal that gave us so much and reduced it from the most useful tool humans had at their disposal to a ridiculously frivolous spectacle that, regarded objectively, is as abhorrent as fox hunting or bear baiting and the so-called sport of kings should be consigned to the dustbin of history, the cruel suffering of the horses for our entertainment ended once and for all.

Should you not feel that horse racing is as cruel and terrible as I paint it, I won’t draw your attention to the fact that even the New York Times knows 24 horses die each and every weekend of the racing season in the United States alone, but merely to the basic premise of the sport. Picture describing it to aliens. You take a four legged creature, clamp a rod between its teeth, strap weights and a midget to its back, put it on enough painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs to make Rush Limbaugh wince and then force it into a competition along a narrow channel with a half dozen of its fellows. Until it dies.

Horse Falls Down

Accidents in horse racing are very common (Photo:

Oh sure, the most successful horses get to retire somewhere, their broken bodies allowed to shamble around a field somewhere, but most of them don’t get that happy life on a farm, they’re just used up and tossed away and the sooner the glamour of horse racing is understood to be so tainted with blood and death, so built on the carcasses of the very animal they all claim to love and laud, the sooner we can put this desperately nasty exploitation behind us and develop into a sentient species unwilling to make other life suffer just so we can have fun just so we can bet on sports in the US on the weekend.

Should Horse Racing Be Made A Thing Of The Past?

Perhaps in the past there was an argument to be made for the spectacle, the competition, the culture of betting centered around “a little flutter at the races”, for the sport of kings, but those days are over. Horse racing is not the mainstay of entertainment on a weekend it once was, we have other (dare I say better) things to do, and if we wish to wager on races, we need no longer do so just on horses or dogs. For instance should you wish to bet on a sport where all the riders wear silly colors and there’s a massive culture of heavy drug abuse, try cycling, you’ll find all the odds at Betfair.

Old horse race

Horse racing is no longer the spectacle it once was (Photo:

When the internal combustion engine rendered the horse obsolete as a mode of transport or weapon of war, tool of agriculture or messenger’s mount, we should have made it as redundant in the world of entertainment and sport as well. That we have retained it when so many other options in the world of racing now exist from motor-sport to athletics that don’t have even a whiff of animal cruelty, the so-called sport of kings is a disgusting stain on our souls and one we need rectify.

The internet age has brought us virtual reality in our pockets, the exciting world of drone racing and even green motor sport, we no longer need to slaughter drugged up lesser-species on the altar of our wish to wager (unless you’re betting on politics), and the death at Pimlico of Homeboykris which collapsed on the walk back to the stable after winning its race should be the last horse to die just so we can bet on the sport of kings, a pseudo-sport at best that is as obsolete as the kings themselves and long overdue an epitaph but if you’re in the US gambling laws of common decency will hasten it, don’t bet the bank on it just yet.

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