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Aug 21, 2009

Don't equate dogfighting with horse racing

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - In Philadelphia the sports reports have been dominated by Michael Vick. His signing by the Eagles has also filled a sizable block of the overall news programs.

It didn't take long for a defender of Vick to call a sports-talk show equating dogfighting with horse racing. The caller tried to say that horses are just as poorly treated as the dogs Vick and his associates tortured and killed.

As soon as the caller mentioned horse racing I changed the station. The program host did not interrupt the caller to tell him how wrong he was to mention horse racing being equal to dogfighting.

First off, horse racing is legal. It's a well regulated sport in the United States with committed individuals involved in the industry. People in the sport care about the horses, with an extremely small percentage outside the mainstream.

The caller mentioned that racehorses, no longer able to race, are cruelly killed. I nearly hit the roof. Horse racing is continually working to improve the fate of horses that are no longer able to compete.

There are new style riding crops being used throughout the racing industry. These equine friendly riding crops are made to encourage the horse through sound and not pain.

"The padded flap is much kinder to the horse," said Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado. "Jockeys across the country have been using the new riding crops on a trial basis for quite a while, and in Kentucky the new riding crop is the standard. In New York, now is the right time to make that change and Saratoga is the proper place."

Jockeys at Saratoga will begin using the riding crop on Wednesday, August 19 following the lead of Monmouth Park and Del Mar earlier this summer.

"The New York jockeys, like the Del Mar jockeys last week, deserve the credit for being proactive in adopting this measure," said Terry Meyocks, national manager of the Jockeys' Guild. "This action is an example of the commitment of the jockeys to work with all groups in the industry to help overcome the challenges facing it. In New York, the jockeys want to continue to work with NYRA to strengthen the racing industry in the state."

Basically, I needed to write this column just to let off some steam. Horse racing may not be perfect, but everyone involved is working to improve the sport and the care of the beautiful animals that keep us coming back.

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