Oct 27, 2007

Tell me if you've heard this one before

This is a good one - there is a report on MSNBC that horse cloning may be horse racing's next horizon. So, is this just a thing right now? How to save horseracing? Because like most other things, greed has made horseracing be a bit absurd and cruel. I love racing - don't get me wrong. But as I have said before most racehorses (at least in this country) are bred for early speed at the expense of the health and stamina of the horse, and frankly the sport.

Anyway, this article is itself absurd. The main argument is that there is more money in breeding racehorses than racing them, which is why they get retired early to go to stud. And because of this breeders are selecting only animals for early speed. Which is totally retarded.... Yeah, there's a crapload of money in breeding, but the way I see it most of these horses are being retired early to stud because of injuries, injuries stemming from stupid breeding practices. Don't even try to tell me that a tremendous 3-year-old, horse of the year colt is going to be retired simply for the breeding money. Sure, if he's injured (which he probably will be), but plenty of sound horses are racing at 4 and can be retired then for the same amount of breeding. I think their arguments are inherently unsound. If this is the cloning proponents' arguments, they'd better come up with something better because this really makes no sense.

But the best thing is what comes later in the article and something I have harped on before. Just because you clone an amazing winner does not mean that that clone is the same horse. Each animal is raised and trained differently and reacts to external stimuli in his development totally differently - genetics only determines so much. And the article actually says this: I guess that they are cloning mules and racing them against each other. 2 identical clones finished 2nd and 7th in a field of eight horses. There was one other identical clone of the same animal that never decided to be a racing mule - he just was bad at it and was retired. So, this totally proves my rightness. Somehow cloning proponents are trying to tell us that cloning is the way of the future and will save the state of horseracing. But how exactly? By cloning Secretariat? And what if Secretariat's clone hates racing for some reason? Or isn't good at it? Genetics only goes so far! There is performance to be added to that as well. And frankly, I would never breed to a stallion (or mare) that had amazing bloodlines, but no performance record. Therein lies the rub - if I am in the minority, then maybe that's why the state of horseracing has gotten to where it is now. Maybe people put way too much weight on bloodlines at the expense of training and performance. And changing that mindset is the only thing that is going to fix the industry. Surely not cloning.

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