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Thoughts on Santa Anita / Friday, March 8, 2019

By Jeff Lifson, West Point Thoroughbreds Executive Vice President

Like a lot of us, I’m heartbroken about what has happened at Santa Anita this winter. And I’m a little heartbroken as well that racing is taking it on the chin as a result.

A lot of the accusations are not new, nor are they nuanced. The outside world and some well meaning insiders are reviving the concepts of cruelty and inhumanity when it comes to our game.

I want to talk about that. That said, I don’t want to take a lot of time giving my thoughts. Most of the brainpower and conversation these critical days ought to be devoted to finding some solutions. The sooner, the better.

In the middle of grave concern and intense search for a solution to the rash of catastrophic injuries at Santa Anita, here’s a short but sincere message from one racing outfit: We love our horses, before, during and after their racing careers. We love them.

It’s why we’re devastated over what has happened and support whatever steps necessary to fix the problem. And we’re not unique in this industry that is all about the horse, love of the horse. So, just as an example, when we see photos of our horses in happy retirement after racing careers…that’s a great moment.

These are photos of our Kentucky Derby runner-up Commanding Curve in his new life. He’s one of many of our former racers (link). We think those who live and breathe this industry every day should speak out about safety and its absolute necessity but also remind fans and other concerned citizens that horses—the care, development and stewardship of their existence—are foundations that enable a cherished way of life.

We need horses—happy, healthy, magnificent, magical athletes—to race and inspire. We need them to survive and thrive. Any other outlook when it comes to racing, well that just isn’t so.

Commanding Curve competing this winter with his teenage owner.

West Point Grade 1 winner Awesome Gem at Old Friends retirement facility in Kentucky.


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