It makes sense that surrounding yourself with positive influences, interactions, and experiences is a bona fide recipe for optimum mental health.
There’s nothing saying that sports and adequate mental health cannot coexist, in fact watching the final round of golf as a Sunday winds down or finding a surfing event deep in one of the ESPN channels can be a very calming experience.
With the Kentucky Derby odds soon to be released for the May race, some people are conflicted as to whether watching horse racing can help mental health, harm it, or just be indifferent. Let’s take a look at the angles surrounding each.
Is Horse Racing Inhumane?
There are definitely arguments to be made that horse racing is a cruel sport – in fact, a pretty solid case could be made that it is the most inhumane of any sporting event.
Just on the surface, there aren’t very many sports out there where an athlete gets put down when they suffer a serious injury.
Could anybody imagine Tom Brady being put to pasture after suffering a torn ACL and MCL in week 1 of the 2018 NFL season?
The flipside of racing being cruel is that these horses are athletes, and every athlete has to endure some pain to receive pleasure.
Lebron James famously spends over $1 million dollars a year on the upkeep of his body, and as a result, his net worth is pushing $1 billion.
Players who endure multiple knee surgeries and can barely walk after retirement also do so after earning millions of dollars and never having to work again past their 30s (if they invest wisely).
Of course, the conundrum with horses is that they cannot speak and therefore can’t hold out for better treatment or higher pay. Plus, great horses only make other people rich whether it be trainers, investors, owners, jockeys, sponsors, etc.
Weeding Out the Riff Raff
What a lot of people lose track of in the argument of whether horse racing is cruel or if trainers are working their animals too hard is that there is no incentive for an owner to run his animal into the ground.
A horse that injures his or her legs, hoofs, back, etc. is not only less likely to win a race, but when you overtrain them that’s a huge waste of a very significant investment.
Make no mistake, there are still some nefarious owners in this industry as 30 or more horses have died at Santa Anita over the past few years suspected mostly because trainers were injecting them with performance-enhancing drugs.
Other reasons for horses meeting their untimely demise were injuries from an expanded race schedule to boost revenue and not just performance-enhancing drugs, but ones that fought fatigue, numbed pain, and masked injuries.
The good news is that the crimes at Santa Anita are exposed and in the national spotlight, and a lot of the usual suspects behind these repeated offenses have been banned from the sport.
The Kentucky Derby is Cutting Edge
There may be some shady things going on in some lesser-known tracks around the U.S, but the good news is that the Kentucky Derby is at least run with integrity. This is obviously the premier event of the horse racing season so the folks at Churchill Downs have dotted their i’s and crossed their t’s.
One of the major reasons to feel OK about watching, wagering, and cheering on the Kentucky Derby is because this event has spared no expense in making sure horses are safe to run.
That starts with extremely detailed drug testing to make sure horses are in their right mindset and continues with a very thorough analysis of the track to make sure it is suitable to be raced on.
Ultimately the final verdict is that it is acceptable to root on the athletes in the Kentucky Derby.