Greyhound Racing In The United States Is Coming To End Soon!
In Florida, when the announcers’ voice is heard over the speakers, the hundreds of people scattered around the grandstands wanting to witness the “Greyhound Racing” of “Derby Lane” fall silent as 41-year-old Frederick Davis is about to start the parade of dogs that are going to compete for the night.
The announcer calls the participants’ name one by one through the loudspeakers as the music starts to keep the beat up. Eight dogs are going to compete every night and Davis parades them around, pausing in front of the stands for the crowd to see. Each of the dogs will be wearing huge numbers attached to their fitted vest or “blanket.”
Then Davis and the handlers will supervise the dogs as they place them in the starters’ box. They will then be teased by the mechanical rabbit called “Hare-son Hare” that squeaks and shoots blue sparks. When the doors fly open, the greyhounds will burst onto the tracks so fast that you can barely see them as their paws are paddling angrily on the ground. They gallop around the oval for 30 seconds and their speeds hit up to 45 miles an hour. That means that they are too fast that they are second to cheetahs when it comes to speed.
Derby Lane is the oldest greyhound racetrack in the United States. According to sports columnist Ring Lardner, Derby Lane is the “Churchill Downs of greyhound racing.” Derby Lane was once a place packed with men and women in suits and hats. Popular names like Babe Ruth and Sophie Tucker were frequent visitors of Derby Lane. In fact, Joe DiMaggio left Marilyn Monroe in a taxi while she was having a conversation with the valet just so he can be on time to place his bets at Derby Lane.
But two years ago, two more greyhound tracks in Florida were closed. In fact, 11 out of 17 more all across the country are not operating anymore. In 2018, Florida voters were able to approve Amendment 13 that bans betting on greyhounds which takes effect December 31, 2020. This proposal came about after critics of the sport contend that dog racing is cruel and inhumane. The racing industry tried to beat the amendment arguing that the critics were only exaggerating the situation.
And because of the approved amendment, Davis will be one of the 400 Derby Lane employees who will be out of work. Yet, he was not sure what he would do without Derby Lane. He has been in this track for 14 years and said that this is his ideal job. He said, “I love dogs and I love being outside.” He said that despite that, he will try to become a security guard. That way, he can still work with dogs, but this time, they will be guard dogs and not greyhounds.
Derby Lane CEO Richard Winning will also be out of work. He said, “It’s a shame to have to shut down after 95 years.” The CEO’s office overlooked the tracks so he could still see the action even if he was not in the grandstands with the crowd. He and his family owned Derby Lane since it was opened way back in 1925.
Now, there are only three greyhound racetracks and one of them is the Derby Lane. Even with this small number, there are about 1,700 dogs that are still racing.