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Kentucky Derby Horse Killed in Front of Thousands

Written by PETA | May 4, 2008

With the shock of Barbaro’s death after the 2006 Preakness still fresh in their minds, the Kentucky Derby crowd saw for themselves the sordid truth about what racing means for the horses involved last night, as the filly Eight Belles was killed after collapsing on the track.

This young filly’s death may have been humane, but the race sure wasn’t. PETA is calling for the immediate suspension of jockey Gabriel Saez—who whipped Eight Belles mercilessly as she came down the final stretch, no doubt in agony from two front legs that were about to snap.

While the trainers, jockeys, and owners may weep their crocodile tears today over Eight Belles’ euthanasia, they will be back on the track tomorrow, putting other horses at risk. Thoroughbreds are raced on hard dirt surfaces—like the one at Churchill Downs. Their bones simply can’t take it, as Eight Belles’ two broken front legs showed last night. Despite the wealth associated with thoroughbred racing, for the horses—most of whom end up broken, cast off, or sent to Europe to be killed for the dinner table&#8212it’s a dirty business and no better than dogfighting.

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  • tom says:

    The Derby only cares about MONEY and until they can improve Veterinary Medicine to fix the horses then I could care less. They are making millions and we have to sit here and watch the horses die when they break a leg. I am proud to be a Kentuckian and I like horse racing, but all the money they are making could be better spent to protect the athletes like the NFL does.

  • Lori Burnham says:

    everthing sickons me this cruelty is horrible what gets me the most is those women all worried about their hats and dresses pretinding to not no what really does happen to hoarses for your enjoyment when i was young i had no knowlege of the tirreble things that really do happen to our lovely animals and people now to the technology on everything we have i now no to just some istent of what goes on heavens no that i dont no it all i cant get that far into seeing it all so let me just say this hear at the end i now cry all the time im bitter and mean to others especally of hoarse racing i now do not eat anybeef i feel sick when im shopping and look at meat im more upset cause i have a great big heart but can do nothing or the money to do anything about the harm that is done to animals but i can voice my opinion and thank you peta i am a member of the church of christ i do vollunteer work regulary feed all hungry animals im able to help others best as i can and pray so for all the rest write now wanting to say who cares earth was already doomed from the get go god dont really care and their well be no animals in heaven well my reply is that all i can do is no that god is watching write up above your head as we all do the things we do god is grading your paper is called your book of judjement and your clock just like mine is ticking down away remember that one day u well be sitting while god plays your life over in front of you as u sit their looking back at god wondering im i going to get to go to heaven and the next earth were only good people and animals can live in peace hormony no sickness for humans and animals alike also no liiter no garbage and trash for me and the animals to not have to live in look at smell eat breath the terrible air and hear any disterbing sounds so when people say it doesnt matter i no it does and god well take care of his people so for me to get to that glorious place iv got to pass my test with god will you thank you for letting me speak on this matter god bless you all

  • Maureen says:

    I can’t believe those of you that use whips. If you think it’s so lightly that it’s not giving pain then use that whip on a person in the same pressure you use it on the horse (in an area not covered by clothing) and see if the person thinks it’s not enough to hurt. Horses are beautiful animals that do not deserve this kind of abuse. You people sicken me! As for putting her to sleep – I have no issue with that because her pain and suffering was over rather than being put off to be abused by other people. If her own owners treated her like crap after winning for them, just imagine someone getting her after patched up broken knees. Putting her to sleep was probably the most humane thing her owners ever did. Her trainer, Larry Jones, and her jockey, Gabriel Saez should both be out of work after running this poor creature into her death march merciless. Any person that rides a horse or uses a horse in their farm needs to read Black Beauty. If you haven’t read it then shame on you because you have no idea what you’re doing to them for you sport or fun does to them. I treat my pets like family and they show me their love every day. If I were lucky enough to have a horse, I would treat that horse like the beautiful loving animal they are and not like a used motor in the garage.

  • J.J says:

    And for everyone who said that Eight Belles should not have been put down because her ankles were broken; are you kidding me? A horse is not a cat or dog; they CAN NOT function with only two legs! They weigh about 1,000 pounds and spend about 80-90% of their day on their feet. Yes, the fact that Eight Belles had to be put down is a tragedy, but trying to keep her alive with two broken ankles would have been a greater one.

  • J.J says:

    I won’t deny that some jockeys (and equestrians in other disciplines as well) use whips excessively. I ride Saddleseat, and carry a whip while I’m riding. I occasionally have to TAP the horse with the whip, but I am not leaving welts or causing the horse any pain. People need to stop acting like every person who uses a whip is a monster. As for horse racing, I am not against the practice itself, just certain aspects of it. The main thing that needs to change is the age at which horses are raced. Considering that a horse’s skeletal and muscular systems are not fully developed until at least age five, two or three is WAY too young to have them run at racing speeds and distance, especially on hard surfaces. Eight Belles’ age, more than anything, is probably what caused her to break down. If owners/trainers of racehorses would wait until the horses were older, there wouldn’t be nearly as many fatal accidents involving racehorses.

  • Peggy says:

    I had been a supporter of horse racing for many years, but when I became more knowledgeable about the greed of the owners and trainers and how many of these beautiful animals lives are ended, I no longer can even watch a race. I would like someone to try to convince me that the horses are not whipped during training and the race. The people who are involved with horse racing are cruel and evil, just like Michael Vick. Then after the horses have given their all, they are sent to slaughter. God aren’t humans wonderful? I AM ALL FOR BANNING ANIMALS IN ANY KIND OF ACTIVITY WHERE THEY ARE TORTURED FOR THE PURE JOY OF ENTERTAINMENT. cLOSE ALL RACING FACILITIES AND PUT THESE HORRENDOUS PEOPLE OUT OF THE TORTURE BUSINESS.

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