Attention horse world: A Thoroughbred racehorse was born yesterday in Kentucky.
While you ponder that momentous event and fawn over his famous pedigree (Curlin x Rachel Alexandra), stop and consider this: If this little guy doesn’t inherit his parents’ talent for speed, will he be looked after by good owners for the next 30-odd years of his life? Call me a downer, but the collective oohs and aahs and cute baby foal pictures that saturated social media feeds this morning were a reminder that only a small percentage of Thoroughbreds make it to the track, and an even smaller percentage become successful racehorses.
What of the adorable foals just like Rachel Alexandra’s first colt, that don’t cut it? Without jumping into the dredges of the horse slaughter debate (that’s Lauren Gallops‘ job), I give a nod to all the throwaway TBs of the racing industry that are somewhere out there right now. Many of them started life in a bed of thick straw on a beautiful Kentucky farm, too. Most of them will not go on to be racing superstars.
There are many good things happening in our industry that have given “throwaway” racehorses a better rap; the eventer Neville Bardos (former $850 failed-racehorse, current USEF Horse of the Year) and the Retired Racehorse Trainer Challenge are two recent examples. But it’s a long road coming before all 27,000 Thoroughreds registered with The Jockey Club annually in North America are cared for throughout long lives with happy endings. I hope little Curlin Jr. in the picture above goes on to win the Triple Crown. But if he doesn’t, I hope he lands with owners who will take on the commitment of horse ownership for the entirety of his life.