When I was a kid, I was old enough to watch (on TV) Secretariat win the Triple Crown, and I adored horses. My experience of horseracing came from TV and the Black Stallion books, so I knew little.
I remember watching the match race between Foolish Pleasure and Ruffian on TV in those heady days, the mid-70s, when I was a budding proto-feminist, hoping that things would change, rooting for any female able to stand up for opportunity. Ruffian stood up and ran, but not for female opportunity, of course; she ran because she'd been bred and trained to run in hopes that she'd breed more horses who could run fast and would earn money for the breeders and owners.
(For all that I sometimes think the patriarchy wants women to be as broodmares, it's helpful to step back and realize that it's literal in the case of racehorses. Not that they think about such things. I have no idea what mares think about, though I guess physical comfort or lack of discomfort, food, water, and companionship/herd on some level are high.)
Hearing about Barbaro's broken leg the other day reminds me of Ruffian. I've not gone out of my way to see a horse race since then (though I've seen them on TV in bars or whatever). Ruffian's death gave me a slight sense of the stakes in the sport, and they just didn't seem worth it, I guess. I gather others felt the same way after watching Ruffian in that race. Still, I hope Barbaro survives.