Written by Alisa Mullins
Star Lillie. Lady Legion.
Baltimore Jack. Those are just three of the 35 horses who have died at the Belmont Park racetrack since the running of last year's
Belmont Stakes—the last leg of the Triple Crown.
Academy Award nominee James Cromwell wants attendees of this year's Belmont Stakes to know those horses' names and
to know that their lives were taken for a few moments' entertainment and a few
dollars at the betting window. He has written a letter on PETA's behalf to
Belmont Park officials asking them to list all 35 horses who died at the track
during the past year on a special commemorative page in the Belmont Stakes
is the only sport in America with a regular, predictable death toll, and New
York has been heavily criticized recently for the staggering number of breakdowns
and deaths on its tracks," James wrote in his letter to Belmont Park. "[H]undreds
of horses have suffered catastrophic breakdowns at Belmont in recent years—and dozens in the last year alone. When their bodies
are hauled away, they seem to be considered no more than collateral damage,
discarded and forgotten by the racing industry."
isn't the first time that James
advocated for horses. In 2011, he asked the racing industry to implement PETA's
Thoroughbred 360 Lifecycle
Retirement Fund in an effort to prevent "retired" horses from being sent to slaughter. Less than a year later, the industry did adopt a plan based on our proposal.
mikelachance816 | cc by 2.0
Hopefully, officials will listen this
time, too. An average of more than three
horses break down on tracks across the country every single day—enough horses die every year to wipe out an entire Major
League Baseball roster. PETA
is calling on the industry to implement basic improvements to make tracks safer
for horses, including banning horses younger than 3 from races (younger horses'
bones haven't fully developed yet), limiting the number of races each horse can
run, and banning whipping and injury-masking drugs. In the meantime, you can
help by not watching races and not betting.
Karma Shield. Whistleblower. Join
Forces. It's almost as if the horses who died at Belmont are begging for
justice from beyond the grave.
Written by Jeff Mackey
There is a certain kind of person, it seems, who enjoys dressing up like a deranged
escapee from some historical theme park and swilling mint juleps just to watch horses run around a dirt track for a couple of minutes. But as a
new PETA mobile billboard will remind visitors arriving at Churchill Downs to
attend the 2013 Kentucky Derby, for the thoroughbreds who will be running on
Saturday, horse racing is a matter of life and death.
PETA's ad will be driven up and down the streets outside the
racetrack in the days leading up to and on the day of the derby. Designed by Dana
Mulranen, a gifted graphic and interactive design major at Temple University's Tyler School of Art, the billboard draws attention to the misuse of both "therapeutic" and
illegal drugs that the racing industry uses to keep injured and tired horses
running, leading to the deadly
breakdown of more than three horses every day on U.S. racetracks.
Even if they survive being pumped full of drugs and forced
to run at breakneck speed on hard tracks, thoroughbreds face another threat
when they can no longer compete: They are often transported to slaughterhouses. There, they are shot in the head, are hoisted into the air by one leg, and have
their throats slit so that their flesh can be sold for human consumption.
your U.S. legislators to support the SAFE Act—the
bill that stops the export of American horses for their meat as well as bans
their slaughter within our borders.
And when it comes to the derby and all other
horse races, don't attend 'em, don't watch 'em, and don't bet on 'em!
PETA is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the
conviction of any individual who may have caused a rash of sudden deaths among thoroughbred horses in
California, currently being investigated by the California Horse Racing Board.
Acute, unexpected deaths are rare for thoroughbreds, but since
July 2011, at least 26 horses in California have died suddenly—seven of them from the barn of
prominent trainer Bob Baffert.
Horses die every day in racing from causes that are appallingly preventable, but these deaths are different. Necropsy reports show that at least one of the
horses suffered from massive internal bleeding from unknown causes, and others
reportedly died of apparent heart failure from unknown causes. An abrupt spike
in the number of sudden, unexplained deaths—followed by reportedly inconclusive necropsy results—inevitably raises concerns
about possible foul play.
What You Can Do
If you or someone you know has information about these
suspicious deaths, PETA wants to hear about it—and if that information results
in a conviction, it could earn the person who reported it both a $5,000 reward
and the satisfaction of knowing that the culprit or culprits will be held
accountable for these deaths. The
whistleblower hotline is 757-962-8383—all calls will be kept confidential.
To help eradicate even more suffering of horses used for
racing, speak out today.
Some might consider Rachel Alexandra lucky. In 2009, she
became the first filly in 85 years to win the Preakness Stakes. The next year,
she was retired from the dangers of the track and training to live as a
broodmare—a female horse used
for breeding—on a farm in Kentucky. But motherhood isn't coming easily
to her. After the birth of her first foal, Jess's Dream, last year, Rachel
Alexandra experienced pain so severe that she had to be hospitalized. The birth
of her second foal last month was even more hazardous: She sustained life-threatening injuries
and had to have emergency surgery to remove parts of her large intestines, and
she just had another
surgery this week to treat an abscess. That is why PETA has written
to Rachel Alexandra's owner, Barbara Banke, urging her to retire the mare from
breeding before pregnancy or foaling kills her.
L.Burchfield | cc by 2.0
Many prize-winning horses—including Lady's Secret, Meadow
Star, Typhoon Tracy, and Urban Sea—have died after giving birth. Rachel
Alexandra's own mother, Lotta Kim, has a history of foaling complications: One
of her foals was born prematurely and died, and another died at just 2 years of
age because of wobbler syndrome. Lotta Kim rejected Rachel Alexandra, who then
had to be raised by a nurse mare. Nurse mares, who are used to produce milk for
orphaned foals and those whose mothers are being rebred, are routinely forced
into a cycle of serial breeding, only to have their own babies torn away from
Tens of thousands of
thoroughbreds are bred each year, often in assembly-line conditions like those documented by a PETA undercover investigator. Only a fraction of the
25,000 thoroughbred foals born every year will be winners, resulting in a "surplus"
of about 20,000 unwanted thoroughbreds annually. Many of these horses, which
can even include former
Triple Crown race champions like
Rachel Alexandra—and their offspring—are sold at auction and wind up in the
hands of "kill buyers" who ship them to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico.
Surely, after earning more than $3 million for her owners,
Rachel Alexandra has earned the right to a peaceful, leisurely retirement that
is free of repeated pregnancies and dangerous foalings.
Written by Michelle Kretzer
HBO canceled its troubled horse-racing
series Luck amid PETA's protests over horse deaths on the set, and the bad luck
continues for the show's creators. Now HBO and the show's producer, Stewart
Productions, have been hit
with a lawsuit charging that they willfully allowed horses to be abused and attempted to cover
Paolo Camera | cc by 2.0
plaintiff in the suit is Barbara Casey, who worked for the American Humane
Association (AHA) and was assigned to monitor animal welfare on the set of Luck. In her claim Casey asserts that HBO and Stewart Productions pressured the AHA to allow them to ignore
animal safety standards in order to save time and money. Casey alleges that she
balked at the idea but that her superiors sided with the show and ignored her
desire to report abuse to law enforcement. Casey's claim also alleges that
underweight and sick horses were routinely forced to work, that horses were
often drugged, and that producers went so far as to misidentify horses so that
animal safety representatives wouldn't be able to track down their accurate
medical histories. Casey is also suing the AHA for wrongful termination on the grounds that her desire to report the criminal activity led to her dismissal.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Casey's lawsuit
argues that "AHA bowed to political and
financial pressure and refused to report the Production Defendants' conduct to
the authorities. … AHA instructed Plaintiff not to report such conduct. AHA
engaged in efforts to conceal and cover up the production defendants' criminal activities."
law-enforcement investigation that PETA pushed for is still ongoing as well and
could result in cruelty-to-animals charges.
Written by PETA
those stomach-churning scenes from PETA's undercover investigation at a horse slaughterhouse?
Horses, discarded by the racing industry, were slaughtered and hacked into pieces.
On the heels of that horrific case, we went to the one organization that deals
with every thoroughbred breeder in this country—The
Jockey Club, which handles all foal registrations—and asked why the run for the
roses had turned into a race for horses' lives. We gave Jockey Club officials a
detailed proposal for implementing and funding a real thoroughbred retirement
program, the Thoroughbred
360 Lifecycle Fund.
More than 32,000 PETA
members and supporters wrote in support of it.
Jockey Club paid attention. Today, less than a year after receiving our
recommendations, The Jockey Club, the Keeneland Association, and the Breeders'
Cup, Ltd., have announced the launch of an organization—the
Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA)—composed of owners, trainers, breeders,
racetracks, jockeys, horse-rescue experts, and others in the racing industry. The
TAA will begin by laying the groundwork for the program. As we suggested, it
will inspect every stable and sanctuary that wants to provide a home for a
thoroughbred. The facilities that make the grade will be accredited. And
then the TAA will raise funds to get the horses into those homes.
much more work to be done, and it won't end all the cruelty in racing,
but making a lifetime commitment to the horses these groups depend on for their
income is a good start.
Written by Kathy
Written by Jennifer OConnor
two horses on the new HBO series Luck—which is set
in and around the horse-racing industry—it was
only bad luck. While filming the show's
pilot, a horse suffered a severe fracture after falling during a race sequence
and was euthanized. Another horse was killed while filming a later episode. Two
horses died for a couple of hours of television! PETA repeatedly reached out to
series creator David Milch and others associated with the HBO production before shooting began, but our efforts
the romanticized façade of thoroughbred horse racing is a world of injuries,
drug abuse, gruesome breakdowns, and slaughter. Image:Paolo Camera | cc by 2.0
if producers had considered the proved safety protocols that we would have
suggested, these horses would still be alive. The show's theme is showcasing
the dark side of racing, and while it does acknowledge how many
thoroughbreds suffer catastrophic breakdowns and how horses are routinely doped, two dead horses in a handful of episodes exemplify the dark side
of using animals in television, movies, and ads.
refrained from telling the show's producers "we tried to tell you so"
and are now in discussions with HBO about how to prevent even more deaths on
Rick Dutrow and Big Brown, one of Rick's many horses who suffered becausehe was forced to race
Great news—notorious thoroughbred trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. won't be drugging, overworking, or breaking more horses anytime soon—at least not in the great state of New York. The New York State Racing & Wagering Board has kicked Dutrow to the curb: He's banned from racing in the state for the next 10 years—an unprecedented punishment.
Dutrow, the trainer of the 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown, has received nearly 70 citations over the course of his career for a variety of violations, including for illegally drugging his horses.
PETA has sent the board a bouquet of flowers as a token of our appreciation for sparing countless horses from the reckless and dangerous actions of this trainer.
Please help other horses who are suffering in the cruel horseracing industry by speaking out against deadly speed tests in which many young horses are injured or killed after being forced to run at breakneck speeds and urging The Jockey Club to implement the Thoroughbred 360 Lifecycle Fund to ensure that racehorses are retired, not slaughtered, after they cross the finish line for the last time.
Written by Jennifer O'Connor, image by banamine | cc by 2.0
Anyone who's ever watched a racehorse being flogged down the home stretch can see the obvious: It's animal abuse. Jockeys routinely strike thoroughbreds 15 to 20 times before they cross the finish line. Now, thanks to a new study from the University of Sydney, we know that whipping doesn't even make the horses run faster.
This first-of-its-kind research into the effects of whipping, which was conducted by studying horses' speed in racing clips, found that horses accelerate most during the periods of races when no whip is used. Down the final stretch, as jockeys whip mercilessly, horses either slow down or maintain the same speed.
And whipping, says the researcher, actually punishes racehorses for running fast rather than encouraging them to go faster. Are you paying attention, National Thoroughbred Racing Association?
PETA's working toward the day when horse racing ends for good—and we've made huge progress, but until then, we aren't letting the racing industry off the hook. We continue to push the racing industry to ban whips, enforce a zero-tolerance drug policy, dump dirt tracks in favor of softer grass tracks, and wait until horses' third birthdays to use them in competitive racing. Learn more here.
Saratoga Race Course has been denied. Well, at least it would have been if freshman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) had had his way. Chaffetz is fed up with all the "fluff" bills that Congress votes on every week—bills like those honoring National Pollinator Week, National Dairy Month, and National Train Day, just to name a few. He decided to put his hoof foot down last week when a bill "memorializing" the start of the 142nd season of New York's Saratoga Race Course came up for a vote.
According to the Associated Press, Chaffetz got on his, ahem, high horse out of concern that any kids in the visitors' gallery who might later be asked if Congress had discussed important matters like wars or the national debt would be forced to reply, "Oh no, they were honoring a race course."
We have to say we're with Rep. Chaffetz on this one. But if we have to pick something or someone to memorialize, we should choose to honor the thousands of horses who've lost their lives at Saratoga and other tracks over the past 142 years.
you have a general question for PETA and would like a response, please e-mail Info@peta.org. If you need to report cruelty to
an animal, please click
here. If you are reporting an animal in imminent danger and know where to find the
animal and if the abuse is taking place right now, please call your local
police department. If the police are unresponsive, please call PETA
immediately at 757-622-7382 and press 2.
Follow PETA on Twitter!
Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.