Is Barbaro the Poster Pony for Animal Rights?

Having watched Barbaro’s unbelievable run in the Derby and his terrifying start in the Preakness, I’m of course pulling for the horse to recover from the phenomenal operation he had today—but I’m wondering whether I should give up watching horseracing, even now and then. Horse writers ought to use the calamity to focus on the issue of racehorse breeding and fragility. AP’s Richard Rosenblatt reports that the horse’s pastern shattered in 20 places. Jeez. What sort of ergonomics are at work here? How many other horses are so freakily built?

Check out PETA’s website, which has a section on racehorses that includes the following:

Racing to the Grave

Horses begin training or are already racing when their skeletal system is still growing and unprepared to handle the pressures of running on a hard track at high speeds.(5) Improved medical treatment and technological advancements have done little to remedy the plight of the racehorse. One study on injuries at racetracks concluded that one horse in every 22 races suffered an injury that prevented him or her from finishing a race, while another estimates that 800 thoroughbreds die a year in North America because of injuries