An article in The Atlantic last year highlights the controversies, even within the industry. "The rampant use of drugs on horses [along] with claims of animal cruelty," Andrew Cohen wrote, "has been understated even among reform-minded racing insiders."
To argue that many trainers are not cruel to their racehorses still ignores the fact the industry's very foundation is built on using animals for profit. The argument does not answer the questions that come from people concerned about horse racing as a whole: whether the highly competitive horse racing industry, as it currently exists, is good for horses at all.
"Winning is everything," Farrell said. "There seems to be no risk too high or too extreme to take to win when it comes to the health and safety of the horses."
Even the horse racing industry is divided. Some horse racers say the industry is fine as it is, while others call for stricter and more consistent regulations on how these valuable animals are treated. As Cohen pointed out in The Atlantic, reform will mean more resources devoted to testing drugs and their effects on the horses, as well as more rigorous legislative efforts to regulate trainers and vets and punish those who break these rules.
"While there have been calls for a necropsy to determine what caused the death of Helwan, it is unknown if the New York racing authorities will comply," Farrell said.
43 horses have died in New York State so far this year due to racing and training, and at least 583 thoroughbreds died within 72 hours of their races in 2014. Horses may very well love to run. Some may even enjoy racing. But it's hard to imagine any being on earth who wants to die for it.
Learn how you can take action for horses here.