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All of the "Triple Crown" horse races (Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont) occur on Shabbat.

If the horse's owner is Jewish, (I just learned that American Pharaoh's owner is Jewish; I didn't know that!) wouldn't he be prohibited from having the horse running the horse on Shabbat, as there is a commandment that the animals have to rest, also?

For the animal to be able to run in these races, would the owner have to sell the horse to a Gentile for Shabbat only, and then buy him back?

Concerns within this question (there may be others that I haven't thought of):

1 - Is the animal doing melacha by running in the race? Perhaps, running per se may not be a melacha as this is what horses normally do. But, as he is in a competition, perhaps this is melacha. What is considered melacha and menucha for an animal (animals are required to "rest"; not only to just refrain from melacha.)

2 - By winning a race (perhaps, even by losing, as well), the owner gains monetary reward. It is received after Shabbat, most likely. But, would he be profiting from the horse's melacha, or even if not melacha specifically, is the owner violating Shabbat from the mere fact that his horse is in a race?

  • running is not a melacha... – Double AA Jun 8 '15 at 20:54
  • @DoubleAA when the pasuk says "lo ta'aseh kol melacha etc." and then lists animals does it mean that the animal is forbidden from performing one of the 39 melachot or that the owner is forbidden from performing one of the 39 through the use of the animal? If the latter, and someone could show that horse racing is somehow a melacha, then using a horse to do that, whether or not the running, itself, is a melacha, would be forbidden. – rosends Jun 8 '15 at 20:59
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    @Danno horse racing is not a melacha, although I assume there are problems here, such as שכר שבת... – wfb Jun 8 '15 at 21:03
  • @wfb I don't necessarily disagree but I am looking for the nafka mina between the 2 interpretations of the pasuk. There ARE (to my simple mind) other problems but I am just curious about this approach. – rosends Jun 8 '15 at 21:05
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    Causing a jockey to ride on it (horse riding is an issue drebbanan.) – Clint Eastwood Jun 8 '15 at 21:27

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