I have a love/hate relationship with racing.
I worked in the industry on and off.
And yes, there is good and bad in this discipline just as in any other. As several other posters have commented, many of the alleged abuses in TB racing (drugs, overwork, working too young, etc.) occur in other high dollar performance industries.
Racing itself is not de facto cruel. The horses love to run (once past the bush tracks, no horse is successful that doesn't like his job and isn't good at it) and most successful horses have had their natural competitive instincts sharpened to where they *want* to win, and will dig in and fight to get out in front.
There are a couple of places where I think criticism of the industry is entirely warranted. One is racing and training 2 year olds. Bear in mind that I am in the US, where two year racing starts in May. Some of the other posters are from parts of the world where two year racing is not as common.
Two is the number of TB foals produced compared to the actual number that make it to the track at all. There's probably an analogy to QH breeding for show or some other breeds and discplines, but it doesn't make the criticism against the TB industry any less valid.
The problem is that racing is like a lottery, and breeders are producing lots of $1 scratch off tickets, hoping one will win the big prize. The fact that the "tickets" are flesh and blood, rather the cardboard, makes disposal of them much more problematic.
All that said, if you could wave a magic wand over me and make me younger, thinner and sounder there's nothing I'd rather be doing than galloping racehorses again. Nothing, and I mean *nothing* compares to the thrill of working a horse from the gate.
I had wonderful experiences at the farm and at the track, rode some very, very good horses and met some great horsepeople. (Also, some not so great, but, again, *any* discipline.)
I love watching racing, because I have some understanding of the intricacies and what's involved and what it took to get the horses and jockeys on that track.
Would I like to see some reasonable reforms in racing, ones the benefitted or protected the horses? Sure. Do I think non horseman should make decisions about what's good or right for racing? Not so much.