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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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  • lynda downie says:

    It sure would be Lee nice if former insiders come forward and tell the truth on national tv

  • Rhiannon says:

    I have to agree with Valerie Cohen. This article is misleading. Dont get me wrong it is a tragedy that Eight Belles had to be put down but at least give people all of the information and not just the stuff that helps validate your point. Every story should have two sides and have complete and correct information. Only after they read a correctly written article should people be able to make their judgements. And why pray tell is it the jockeys fault? He was not whipping Eight Belles to excess and he was trying to slow her down when she broke her cannons. Sure the industry itself is a little messed up. Horses should not be run that early and their breeding isnt helping any either. Their muscles are getting bigger while thier bones are getting smaller and smaller.

  • Gaye Ashley says:

    I found 2 other very good articles about this horrible “sport.” Google articles titled “The Sport of Kings Is Not Very Majestic” by Gregg Doyel and an article on titled “Is Horse Racing Any Different Than Dog Fighting?” Great Posts Dana Strome Ella and Annalena!!!

  • Why should I tell YOU???? ***Derby supporter*** says:

    Wow this is fun watching you all post comments i really am enjoying myself. Well anyway of coarse there is abusing IN EVERY SPORT!!! Even in the most sweetest looking sports like dressage. Not every sport is perfect so you might aswell let it go!! Bull fighting for one example you kill the bull for fun and how about greyhound racing??? After they loose even onece they are killed or put out on the streets. In dressage they could give the horses drugs aswell. There is almost no stopping evil poeple from drugging horses or dogs or any animal. So just leave us alone. People admire these horses and there power. Eight bells had blood lines towards horses with weak ankles and barbaro had white socks on his feet and that means these horses bones are weak either way if they were 4 or 5 they still would have a chance in tripping or hurting themselfs. You can’t fight millions of poeple all at the same time. They should give blood tests to the horses before every race. And I read n the one article that says “They love to run” and they said that nobody would have fun running with a hurt or bleeding leg. But the thing that humors me the most about that statement is that I loved running even when my legs hurt mostly hip but that effects all of your legs and one time I jumped to early over a hudal landed on cold rubber tire and that hurts man!! then got up back running then again horses are more fragile and must be different. I swear I have read somewhere that horses don’t feel pain in there ankles…it might have been my imagination but I think that is the case…so she would not feel it and just be very tired. Well then please comment back on this post I would like to hear other peoples opinions D

  • allison says:

    I am as upset as everyone who commented here about what has and is continuing to happen in the horse racing industry. I get comfort and hope however in reading all of your comments. Sometimes I feel so alone in my fight for animals. Recognizing our kinship in this belief can be a strong strong thing. I thank PETA for helping community networking start in this cause…

  • Sonnet says:

    Are you kidding me? I refused to watch the Kentuky Derby that saturday and i’m glad I did! My parents asked me why and said “I loved horses” Yes of course. My reply was “Exactly”. If I had seen that I would have cried my eyes out. We have horse at our barn that was saved from racing. He wasn’t “fast enough” to make it and would have been sent to slaughter if our trainer hadn’t stepped in. He is an amazing horse with a great personality and makes alot of people including me verry happy. Why did it take this long to realize what they go through? What about Ferdinand? Barbaro? Ruffian? And God knows how many more!

  • Lee says:

    These poor animals like so many others are pushed in order to “make the human richer”. I had plans on Derby but after what happened to 8 Bells I lost all desire.It seemed so pointless and sickening.Why would I or anybody want to celebrate if a life had been lost needlessly. I wish they would ban the Kentucky Derby along with all the other disgusting “animal for entertainmentabuse and profit sports”. Kentucky will probably try to smooth things over because they are more concerned about their dm tourist profits than anything else. Even 8 Bells trainer admitted on the local news to using steriods in 1997.Read what some of former insiders say about the pushing of horses and abuse and why they are no longer part of it.Wouldn’t it be nice if they would all come forward and tell the truth on national t.v.?

  • Neeti says:

    I am an avid horse and dog lover and have ridden horses for 20 years. After seeing what has happened to Barbaro and now Eight Belles I am totally against horse racing. I agree that it is similar to dog fighting by putting an innocent animal in a situation where they are made to engage in a dangerous life threatening sport. This has to stop!! It brings tears to my eyes when I hear of more and more horses dying because of stupid and selfish reasons on the part of humans.

  • C says:

    I am all for animal rights and i love horses but to compare it to dog fighting is not accurate. Dog fighting is ment to hurt the animal horse racing is not. Throughbreads were bread to run and if you took that away from them they would be devistated. In most cases throughbreads are euthanized because they wouldn’t be able to ever run agian and that’s what they love to do. They wouldn’t be happy as some kid’s pony or just a field horse. I think that banning horse racing would do serious damage to the world’s throughbread horses. Those owners love their horses and many keep them even after they race. Not just to breed them but to take care of them. Those horses become a part of their family. Oh and for the record those jockeys don’t “whip” the horses unless it’s nessisary. I watched the race and he did not increase his use of the crop during the final stretch if anything he noticed something was wrong and he actually started to pull her up.

  • Gaye Ashley says:

    I just read an excellent article by Sally Jenkins the sports columnist for the Washington Post. The title of the article is “Is Horse Racing Breeding Itself to Death?” She says Eight Belles killed herself by finishing second and points out how NBC cut the cameras away from her laying there trying to cover it up. You have to register to read it but it is well worth your time. She is a horse expert. It is sure good to see a lot of people care deeply about these horses.

  • sharon says:

    It has to be understood that no thoroughbreds at all would even exist if not for existence of horseracing which is the purpose for which this breed was originally created. These are NOT just wild horses which have been tamed but as much a human creation as for instance a specialized breed of dog like a dachshund and they are equally removed from and unsuited for life in the wild. I think it is important to ask what we think thoroughbreds should be expected to do with their lives if racing is altogether banned and where else we would be able continue to enjoy their beauty and talent. At the very least there would be far fewer of this breed than there are at present. If we decide that we would like to continue being able to see these fabulous creatures and watch them race at the very least there should be maximal safety for them as they perform. This means no excessive training or racing of babies tots and youngsters mandated rest time and access to pasture and the natural society of other horses ABSOLUTELY NO DRUGS AND NO HORMONES IN RACING HORSES OR JOCKEYS same rules as in the Olympics there is no safe fair or meaningful competition unless it reflects the natural ability and condition of the athlete the safest possible track surfaces and hoof care being used and breeding for natural good health toughness and durability as well as speed. Such measures would help minimize injuries not only to horses but to jockeys whose lives are also so much at risk when horses are injured in this extreme equine sport that it could never be in their interest to push a horse beyond safe limits. Funding taken from some of the billions earned in this business should be mandated to support research into the best means of implementing all the above and for the vetmedical care and retirement of both racehorses AND jockeys who need such support. The threeyear old horses competing in the Kentucky Derby are younger in terms of their development than any professional human athletes being the equivalent of a child aged 912. Young horses are particularly endangered by being expected to perform at high levels before they are physically mature and before they have enough practice handling their newly grown and still gangly bodies and legs to avoid errors of clumsiness caused by inexperience. Consequences of youthful clumsiness and errors of judgment can so easily turn deadly in animals performing right at the limit of what is possible that horses expected to go to such extremes should be allowed to develop their full adult level of coordination skeletal strength and physical experience before participating. As far as whipping a horse with a riding crop goes this is more of a signaling device than a painful or scary instrument. For a proportional experience think of the “pain” of a human being whipped with a chopstick. If the horse was disgruntled by a jockeys use of the crop shehe could easily relieve herself of their presence as we saw horses including Big Brown and Recapture the Glory accomplish quite effortlessly though in their cases unintentionally at the Derby. Horses instinctively know exactly how to get rid of anything they perceive as being a “predator” or a source of pain on their back. Jockeys only stay on horses by balance and cooperation with and by the horse. Their riding position is simply designed to create minimal interference with the horse as it runs and does next to nothing to aid their own safety or stability. When the horse decides it wants them gone they usually have no choice but to just go! Imposing rules that require horses to be allowed to grow up properly and reach adulthood at age 56 years before being raced would change the economics of this sport to the point that only people with true love and respect for horses and with more patience than greed would want to participate and that would be a GOOD thing! Perhaps some old racing records would have to be set aside and a new set created that would reflect fair performance of adult and drugfree animals but that would only be as it should be. When records set by human athletes who are revealed to have artificially enhanced their performance with steroids blood doping etc. aren’t allowed to stand not to mention the uproar this always causes because of the dishonesty and unfairness involved why should it be any different with horseracing? Sports wins and records set are only meaningful when they are honestly and naturally achieved.

  • Gaye Ashley says:

    One of the horses Recapture theGlory was so anxious and nervous to do “what he loved” race himself to death that he bucked the little man with the whip off his back before the race even started!!! That tells me something right there!!!!

  • AC says:

    I am behind PETA 100 I feel it’s not only the jockey at fault but also the trainer owner and everyone else supporting this inhumane event. I think it’s really terrible that we have political people also contributing to these events. These people deserve to be put in a ring with hungry tigers so they can feel the pain these poor innocent animals go through. It’s sad they can’t find better things to do with their money when so many animals have to suffer for their enjoyment. Please keep up the good work.

  • Been There and Bite Me says:

    Geraldine I worked on the track for years and my brotherinlaw trained for over 30. Yes he got on his own in the morning until he felt he was too heavy. Anyway that is beside the point. I own and have run quality barrelhorses so I am not ignorant. No not gymkhana but prorodeo caliber so don’t tell me that I don’t know what I’m talking about. You tell me how was it that I was sitting in my living room with my farrier and turned to him and said “That filly is not right.” Then she breaks down. I said this BEFORE the wire and I don’t have any special powers. Anyone ask any of the other riders if she was laboring? Geraldine what is the main cause of condylar fractures of the cannon bone? Fatigue of the flexor tendons. Now how does that happen? You see Geraldine there actually are real horseman that own quality horses that feel that PETA is not too far off base here. I don’t agree with everything but I am certainly fed up with all the breakdowns. This should NOT have happened. Now you go tell that to your buddy Larry with his 20 head.

  • Judith, Freedom Fighter for Animals says:

    ANNALENA FANTASTIC POST!!!!! YOU SAID IT LIKE IT IS! Peace for all animals!

  • Corteny says:

    This post is a direct coment to Rachel Cambio. I have pasted the comment below. “Horse racing or any other form of “sport” that involves forcing animals to compete is inhumane. It is wrong and barbaric at any level to do such a thing. And YES it is FORCING them to compete. They are not “born” to to do it. If horses are “born to run” then let them do it on their own without the whips and cruel training and not in a circle on a track. They were not in any way shape or form born to compete for human pleasure. It sickens me that anyone could think otherwise… they are cruel cruel people who do.” You say that if horses were born to run then we should let them do it on their own. Where might I ask would you want them to do this? We you and I and everyone else breathing on this planet have taken their home away from them. The only place they are allowed to run free is in Nevada and that isn’t even a whole bunch of room. And the U.S. bill that protects them thanks to Wild Horse Annie isn’t doing a whole lot of good because there are still poachers but now they have planes. I have had a chance driving through the dessert of Nevada to see these horses running free. It was beautiful. You say that anyone who “forces” horses to compete are cruel cruel people. Well I ride quarter horses show horses. I love my horse more than my own life and he loves me. You can read alot about a horse by looking in his eyes and reading his body language. My horses hugs me wraps his head and neck across my shoulders and around my stomach every day. He is seven he didn’t start any training until after he was four. He jumps even by himself. If I forget to take the jumps down after we practice then after his bath he goes outside and hops over them all by himself. I am teaching him competitive trail and we leave obstacles set up all over the pasture he goes through them by himself. If that doesn’t convince you that he loves his job then I don’t know what will. All of our horses have excellent care and when one of our horses gets too old they go out in the pasture where they have a walk in barn and spend the days eating grass and rolling around and being fat and lazy. And yes we have had to put one down but only because he was too old to get up and walk to the feed bucket. It was the most humane thing to do.

  • Sharon says:

    It breaks my heart to see photos of these supposedly “ready” topclass thoroughbred athletes smiling and showing by showing their dewyfresh translucent barelyerupted adult teeth that they are really still just “kids”. A human at a comparable stage of development would be 912 years old. When human kids this age don’t play professional sports for obvious reasons no matter their level of talent why should allowing this be considered proper treatment for animals? We owe these trusting young horses the same sort of protections we give young humans! They deserve to have the time to finish growing up!

  • Lin says:

    In Peta’s take action letter it states 1. Delay training and racing until after a horse’s third birthday. Before reaching this age the animals’ legs are not fully developed which increases the chances for injury. I read that in the registry all the horses have the same birthday January 1. So a horse that is born for example on Oct 2nd 2006 would be called a two year old on Jan. 2 of 2008 when actually the horse is only 15 months old. I think that you should make it clear that three years means three years not the Jan. 1st date. I also don’t think that racing should be included. Delay training until three and racing until four. Honestly I would rather that horse racing be banned but with all the money involved we know that won’t happen until people evolve.

  • Mark Lee says:

    PETA Check on a horse that broke down at Will Rogers Downs by the name of Middle Earth on Saturday. This horse is trained by Roger Engel. I know for certain this horse was so drugged up on illegal medication to allow him to race that it is sickening. The track management knew this as well but they cover it up because Engel brings in a lot of horses and fills their races. If you check on this incident you will find this horse had SERIOUS physical problems and was only able to be on the track because the drugs took away all feeling of the issue.

  • Mike Kraemer says:

    PETA I am a long time horse racing follower and I love animals more than you know. I don’t agree all of horse racing is barbaric. However I do believe there are facets of the game that border cruelity. To me those trainers vets that use these substances to numb pain on a horse with phyiscal problems in order for them to race should be banned for life. Period. Horse racing has an enormous problem with somewhere between 25 to 35 of their trainer population clearly using these drugs to gain an edge. Basically stealing and animal cruelty at the same time. There are certain statistics that obviously point to the trainers that are cheating and endangering these horses lives. The horse racing industry has decided to turn a cold ear to the issue because they need more horses running to fill their races. This is despicable and needs to be investigated. Kentucky Derby winning trainer Richard Dutrow is a major violator. If you would only point your efforts and investigative techniques in that direction you would gain a huge following inside and outside of horse racing circles. Trying to get the jockey suspended is a complete waste of time and makes your overall efforts void of any substance. Refocus and do some real good.

  • mike says:

    BEEN THERE…..Well you are lost to without facts. Why was Larry Jones on the horse? For a photo op? Hardly I used to work for him and he gets on all of his horses when training and this was no different. You guys spout off at the mouth and have zero clue of what you are talking about.

  • Geraldine Clarke says:

    OK let me try again to make this point since my last post was rejected. The statement that “Horses probably do “love” to run though we really cannot know for certain because horses cannot communicate to us in their language…” says absolute volumes about why we are not communicating on this blog. Horses DO communicate with humans extremely effectively in their own language as anyone who has spent time around them knows so well. I feel very sorry for anyone who has not had the amazing experience of true communication with a horse. Although I’ve spent a lot of time on racetracks and my first horse was a TB racehorse now still alive at 30 and retired to green pastures I ride dressage. After working with one of these amazing animals for awhile I can just think “canter right lead at C” and although the cues are absolutely imperceptible it happens. It is the most wonderful experience in the world! I wish all of you could experience that great joy of true communication with another species. I find that so many of the extremely emotional arguments posted here are from people who have at best only minimal knowledge of real horses. There has been so much misinformation posted that my mind boggles. Many of these emotional comments seem to be coming from people whose experience with horses I suspect may be from those horrible “My Little Pony” dolls and cartoons they had in childhood. Horses deserve better than mawkish sentimentality. Truthtelling time here to my eternal shame I worked on some of those “My Little Pony” cartoons. I will do penance for the rest of my life for that. Yes what happened to Eight Belles was a tragedy and I cried right along with everyone else. Yes terrible things happen some times in horse racing as they do in every other avenue of human endeavor. It is LIFE that is cruel. For an interesting perspective from someone who knows horses well and is a frequent critic of the horse racing industry as am I read Jane Smiley’s piece in the New York Times httptherail.blogs.nytimes.com20080503atakeonafillyscourage Geraldine Clarke

  • Zach says:

    i too was saddened by the death of eight belles but I find it reprochable that PETA thinks it can just step in and “save the day.” For those of you who say that horseracing should be banned because it is cruel to the horses you forget that in the wild horses naturally compete to see whp is better faster or stronger. Perhaps the whips are debatable but many horses will speed up just when they see the whip instinctively. I dont deny many people invovled in the racing industry are upper class wealthy people but if you ever take a look at the infield at any race you will see average people there in greater numbers than the people in the stands. Yes many may be betting on the races but for most it is simply to see the grace and supremacy of what are in my opinion the most impressive animals on earth.

  • Judith, Freedom Fighter for Animals says:

    Mary PLEASE get your facts straight. I know you are a A.Q.H.A. member just how you talk. For the last 25 years America has been sending the overflow of horses to Mexico and Canada. Stop spewing your lies on this site. We don’t need people here that state untruths. You disgust me get lost lier. Peace For All Animals!

  • Parker Scarbro says:

    I have already posted a comment yesterday and now after reading more ignorant and insane post I feel angry. I am not angry at what happened but am angry at the responses. PETA and some of the people posting need to calm down. Horseracing is humane. NASCAR football basketball baseball hockey wrestling swimming and even golf are all sports in which an athlete has died during the event. I know this is an “animal” issue but if those sports made reforms and went forward why should some of you people and PETA feel it’s neccessary to stop racing all together. I guarantee some of you who have called for an end to horseracing watch the sports I listed above. Shame on you. If you want to end horseracing then you shouldn’t support other sports as well. I am a professional athlete and I train very hard for what I do. If I were to die during training it would be an accident not my trainer’s fault. Leave him alone. There are so many other issues that PETA does well on to have this alienate so many people because of the severe measures you are calling for is unbelievable. Let’s all remember Eight Belles but this protesting and other nonsense is stupid. Something good well hopefully come from her death and reforms will be made. Move on.

  • Lady76Blue says:

    Peta does some great things. They apparently saw and knew more about horses than the majority of persons on here. EB was hurt in the race. Apparent as she rounded the turn and jockey had to straighten head and try to keep her from lugging in more. Trainer even said that he was whipping her to keep her off the rail from going over it. Horses run or move the opposite direction from pressure or pain. They do feel that whip along with the pop. No reason for it. I do believe that the trainer did everything that he knew and had knowledge of to do for prep of the race. Lots of money is spent by these owners and trainers to prep them and keep them running. that’s their money huge purses can eliminate horses quickly less persons with less money have to hold onto the ones they havetrainers make their living by having these horses in good shape. They love them. The jockey was inexperienced for a race like the derby. Look at the videos on you can see the legs are not right as straighten out of turn lugging in no lead change at the wire the left leg goes deep down. The jockey was whipping her and whipping her. Inexperienced I don’t think he realized her plight. She kept running. One thing that horses of this caliber do is They KEEP running even if the leg is falling off. Vet said left was compound and fractured and the only one that was through the skin. Right had common fracture and broken sesamoid. He said she did not have a third leg to cast and walk into ambulance. Where were the plans andor ambulance with the lay down bed and hoist with sling to move her rather than kill her there. She deserved and earned the right for that place finish and a dignified death after all efforts were done to save her life as would have been if a stallion. There are horses that have prosthesis for legs that have continued to breed and have babies. One in Versailles had another baby this year. Just because Barbaro’s failed does not mean that no others will. The other issue is the purse monies for males versus females. EB ran 9 races and earned 308650 with no grade 1 races. Big Brown ran 3 races with 662700 and 3 races with a grade I. wow…Check condition books May at CD a grade I for males purse is 750000 no grade one for the fillies. There is a grade III for both the males is 350000 and the fillies are at least 50000 and more less in purse money. NOT fair cause persons racing will want their charges to make the most for their efforts if they have the ability. EB did but something happened in that race that caused pain as is evident in the race itself and cost her her life due to her heart to keep going when no one stopped her but whipped whipped whipped. She ran too many races for her age and maturity. She also did not have tetestrone to build stronger bones and muscles as the males therefore had to perform much much more strenously. NOT fair. Racing should not be done away with. Lots of good honest trainers owners jockeys and grooms workers that love the animal and do care But things should be done to equate the conditions so this does not happen again. The oaks for the fillies purse was only 500000. Wow Wake up people and look objectively at the body language of this horse during the race. She wasn’t looking at the crowd…she was in pain both feetmaybe not at first but on down the stretch. Only right at first lugging in head bop feet position. Ears?? She was not comfortable going across the finish line. Get real. Do something about purses riding in this type race with some experience get rid of the whip get some equipment to save the animals not put them down and feel some empathy for the owner trainer jockey who did not realize or know that this was happening. Mistakes happen and she may have took a bad step before the turn however as any rider will tell you and any trainer or person knowing horses can point out the pain and symptoms of same during the race. He should have known but then again it was the derby and he was not experienced riding such a race. Do something that will mean something for this fillie rather than stop racing all together. Clean it up for the horses and everybody else involved in the industry. Good luck peta. Big business though dictates the purse money and the racing age and the whips and the equipment used to move the broken down ones from the tracks. It takes money to do these things and Stallions make more money than fillies therefore the product is worth more and deserves more attention. I wish the OAKS would get the hoopla that the derby does and purses etc. The tracks say the public does not want that they want the males???? Maybe someone should inform them otherwise or at least to provide same so that fillies like EB won’t have to run against the males at an immature age. The males are also immature. They make more money at 2 and 3 cause that is where the money is. thanks for listening. Please be objective and search out the symptoms for pain leg positions for stride in running etc. Remember that horses like EB don’t stop no matter what UNLESS someone urges them too. Also stop blaming the trainer jockey for being humans and making statements like the horse was on drugs. Test are given for such as this and they would lose the purse earned if shows up on any drugs. Years ago the tests were no as accurate and done as they are today. Even huge rich rich peoples horses don’t get by with it today. Horses aren’t any less than then just have better tests and conditions now. If want to do anything to prevent this happening again 1. Raise the age limit to at least 4 for derby running. 3 for first runnings rather than 2. 2. Eleminate the whips 3. Raise purses and races to equate the males for the fillies so they don’t have to run against males in order to get the moneys they do. 4. Give the fillies the same coverage on big races just as the males get. I don’t remember seeing an Oaks game as the derby has. The trail to the derby …fillies don’t get that. for

  • lindsey lohan says:

    you people should get over it would you rather see a horse suffer or want it to get pput down??? how would you like it if you broke your ankles and somowne killed you

  • Gaye Ashley says:

    Everytime I think of her with her poor legs all broken up unnaturally and her sweet little face with dirt on her nose laying there in extreme pain trying to get up I just about go into ORBIT!!! I sure wish someone could stop this abuse. PETA seems to be the only place anyone gives a damn. The rest of the media is on to their next big sensational story.

  • LP says:

    Yes. It is EXTREMELY sad about Eight Belles.. It shouldn’t have happened…but it did..The jockey is NOT psychic!! What happened had NOTHING to do with the rider..if you have EVER ridden a racehorse which I’ll bet most of you haven’t or even A horse…you would NOT be criticizing this guy! As a retired jockey…we do what ever it takes to keep these animals and the other jockeys as well as ourselves safe once they leave the gate. We all go in to this “sport” and YES it is a sport with an amazing love and respect for these animals. Most of them LOVE to run…they love the competition and I have even seen some that love the applause of the croud..and yes…that happens too! but there are some that do not love it and those are the ones that go to good homes. There are many racehorse retirement programs all over North America! As far as banning this sport..good luck with that…you would be putting 100’s of thousands of people out of work..hey while you’re at it let’s try to put the auto mobile industry out of business as well…cuz DAMN there ALOT of BAD DRIVERS who run dogs and cats and raccoons over in the streets! I am an animal lover but I’m not as anal as some! sorry thats just my opinion…now if you want something to gripe about when it comes to horses…how about Polo?? By the way did you know that race horses get treated better than most people in this world? Have you ever been to the back stretch??

  • Gaye Ashley says:

    I’m sure Eight Belles would “have loved” to be alive tonight too!!!

  • Gaye Ashley says:

    NOBODY can deny that if Eight Belles had not been FORCED to run that race she would be eating some oats and enjoying the fresh air and sunshine instead of laying dead on a autopsy table!!!

  • Glenda Shepard says:

    If you want to fight the horse racing industry why don’t you mention the fact that horses do not become physically mature until they are 5 years old. They have them under saddle in heavy training as yearlings when they are literally BABIES! By the time they are 3 their joints and bones are seriously compromised why has no one brought this fact up? Look at other equestrian sports horses cannot compete in endurance events unless they are at least 5 years old. Horses in jumping dressage competition average anywhere from 9 to 15 years old. If you want to win this battle use the right ammo. Ask people if they would allow their children to train hard enough to compete in the Boston Marathon by the time they are 5. That’s what they’re doing to those horses.

  • ella says:

    I have read so many emails insisting that horses like nothing more than to run and that it’s in their ‘DNA’ in their blood.. no happier than when they’re running like the wind’.. is that so? well I think all these people’s comments are deluded.. horses ‘run’ only and when only if there is a reason to do so.. ie. to escape from somethign eg. fire or from harm.. chasing another horse frollickingplaying .. or in this case.. with a human jockey on it’s back geroading it to keep running and as fast as it can. I live kind of near the country side.. and I pass horses in fields.. and no.. they’re not ‘running around’ aimlessly but 1010 they will be peacefully grazing or slowly plodding around or even more so.. jsut standing stationery.. on the spot.. where these people get the opinion that ‘horses like nothing better to do than to go gallavanting around’ quote “it’s in their blood” at top speed where to.. and racing around.. what for? I simply believe it’s not true.. no I’m not a horse expert.. I just simply observe horses even young horses in fields.. and they’re mostly stationery grazing or calmly plodding around in the fields.. horses race around the tracks at full speed PLUS 118 lbs plus of a jockey wieghted down on it’s back on racing on the most delicate thin legs ankles becuase it is TRAINED to do so.. it is literally forced to gallop at FULL speed and peopel wonder why this particular horse collapsed and with broken bones.. horse racing is a brutal sport. and the sooner it died out or was banned.. the better..

  • Dana Strome says:

    This is for Jenda Wilsonthe owners’ granddaughter “Bitter tears” ran down your face on the way to your senior prom when you heard about Eight Belles ? Did you still manage to attend the festivities in spite of your “grief’? The fact is you’re way too young to have developed the type of insight or compassion that this horrific situation warrants. The bottom line is this that poor filly would be alive right now if it weren’t for the greed and hypocrisy of this sport and the millions of dollars it generates. Why do you think that “YUM” idiot was up there rattling off product names while a beautiful young thoroughbred was literally being euthanized while he spoke? As a horse owner and lover the fact is something went terribly wrong with this filly. Somebody made an egregious error in judgement by deciding to race her that day and the responsibilty lies with the trainer and the owner. Even the track vet said he’d never seen an injury like this in his entire career which leads me to believe that there is more to this tragedy than has been revealed. Horses’ legs do not just sustain open when the bone is protruding thru the skin shattered comminuted fractures for no reason and the mechanism of injury the race itself does not quite match up with the severity of this filly’s devastating damages. I can’t begin to describe how angry and heartbroken I am I can’t get the image of her lying on the track out of my mind…. terrified trying in vain to stand up in horrific pain not understanding that her life is about to come to an end. There is absolutely nothing that can ever justify this type of scenario and as long as I live I will never watch a horse race again. And for all you people who defend this sport no matter how you try and glorify it ultimately it’s about the money and you damn well know it.

  • SHARIE DELLA says:


  • john says:

    To Rachel Cambio YES THEY ARE BORN TO RACE! None of these horses would be alive if it wasn’t for racing. They are thoroughBREDS meaning they were born for only 1 purpose to race. What exactly are we as humans allowed to do with horses? Own them for use on farms? Is that ok? Or are they only allowed to run free in the wilderness? because I promise they suffer much more when they break a leg out there.

  • Been There says:

    My theory is that the filly initially suffered a condylar fracture 45 strides prior to the wire. At that point it was not catastrophic. However as she continued on it put more stress on that hairline fracture. She shifted her weight to the other leg and when the first fracture failed there was too much force placed on the other leg and hence she broke the other limb as well. Condylar fractures are not necessarily life ending if they are not displaced so if she was pulled up when she took that first bad step more than likely there would not have been a catastropic breakdown. Yes she crossed the finish line with her ears pricked. Big deal. So did my horse when he fractured his coffin bone. He never and I mean never took a lame step. He’s retired spoiled rotten and he deserves it. I’m tired of racetrack lies and cover ups. That jockey made a mistake. He felt that misstep and lied to himself that she was O.K. Please people do not tell me how jockeys love all the horses they get on. I have a couple of exboyfriends who were top jockeys and it’s a job. Some horses are indeed special to them but not all riders feel that way. I’ve been there so don’t try to bullsht me. The bottom line is if a horse takes a bad step and doesn’t feel right for a couple of jumps just pull the horse up. But if you can’t feel a horse being off then you have no business riding one.

  • Eric says:

    Animals are animals people are people you people make me sick. Donate your money to human rights organizations! All you people are just sensationalists trying to make a buck on a tragedy!

  • Ben says:

    It’s a shame that horse died but people need to lay off the jockey. He was just doing his job. No one wants to eat tough meat and thanks to his tenderizing whip action at least that horse will make a decent meal in whatever country it’s served in. Seriously PETA members get a life. Horse racing has been aroung for hundreds of years and the people that own and race horses care for them better than you take care of your own kids. I mean for crying out loud your spokesmodel made a living exploiting herself on the pages of playboy and you want the American public to take you seriously. Animals are here to service humans. That’s the way it has always been and that’s the way it is always going to be. I agree that an animal protection organization is usefull but PETA is a joke. Stick to protecting domestic pets from abuse and things like that and quit trying to force the world to give up traditions and become vegetarians.

  • Penny says:

    I spent a few years on the racetrack working as first a groom then as an exercise rider in the bay area. I can tell you first hand that these horses are abused by any standards. From the way they are treated at the barns by the trainers and grooms to the way they are trained on the track. If you walk down a shed row you’ll see their anxiety and anger as most try to bite or kick at people who go near. Others endlessly weave or pace their stalls pumped up with vitamins and hot food and made stand in a 12×12 stall all day. Until the morning when they throw a saddle on them boost up a rider walk them to the ‘gap’ in the track jog them back about a half mile then turn them around to gallop the length of the track. I can tell you after spending all my life riding saddle horses and then riding race horses about 90 percent of them are sore in some way or another. And the trainers know that. That’s why they pump them up with intiinflammatory drugs ‘bute’ every night to keep the going. I was told to use the whip on sore horses that wouldn’t move fast because of their pain. The horses grow to hate getting on the track and when they get to the ‘gap’ they rear up try to turn around anything to avoid it. Eventually they just get to the point where the minute they are turned the ‘right way’ of the track they run off as fast as they can with all their heart like that’s their only hope of escape. No matter what restraints they pu t on them at that point barbed bits that cut into their mouth and chin more whipping you can’t stop them. Some horses I galloped the trainer would instruct me to just let them run off because they’d get tired and stop fighting after about a half mile or so then they’d gallop sorely and slowly the rest of the mile. Then when they come back off the track they wash them every day with soap and hot water. They bite and kick while they’re being washed so they put a chain in the mouth along the top of their gumline that goes through the halter. When the horse flinches they yank the chain. Their skin is very thin unlike saddle horses so it and sensitive and ticklish. On race day if their legs are sore or showing signs of swelling they are made to stand in a bucket of ice for an half hour or more until they are numb and will not feel the pain when they race. They are also given extra ‘bute’ the night before. Don’t let the insiders fool you all of these horses show signs of pain soon after they are brought in for their first lap around the track as 2 year olds off the farm. What makes a good race horse often isn’t the best or fastest it’s the horse that can hold together long enough to make them the most money. Even the expensive good horses are treated this way and most good horses eventually end up as claimers who then are drugged and iced to hold them together long enough to get across the finish line. Every night as a groom I’d have to put some sort of ointment under the wraps on the horse’s legs to treat something that was ailing. Don’t think Eight Belles didn’t show signs of stress and pain in those front legs long before she crossed the finish line and her legs crumbled in front of all of us. And don’t think that these horses love this because that’s what they’re bred to do. My experience was they try to express their dislike of their racing lives every way they can from biting to kicking to rearing up before they have to go on the track to just giving up and standing in the corner with their heads down. Folks I’m not exaggerating this was was a saw first hand and I’ve never been an activist in any way for stuff like this. But the Eight Belles thing finally put me over the top of keeping quiet about this sport of kings. I guess for me my best way of making a difference is by not supporting this sport going to the track or watching these types of events on t.v. What else is there to do?

  • Maya, CVT says:

    It’s true that horses love to run this does not mean that a racetrack is a natural habiat for them. Companion horses get to run in a field when their hearts desire. Have you ever seen horses run in circles in a field against each other? That would be quite a sight. Horses don’t have organized sports. They do not know about “winning” that is a human concept. Although they may enjoy running the track on some level there are probably some horses in racing that DO NOT enjoy it and due to the extreme nature of the sport some horses have died pretty nasty deaths. When we breed horses for profit we are creating animals with extreme genetic traits that are a detriment to their health. In addition to being prone to injury because of how they are bred they are not able to voice when they are not feeling up to a race as a child or adult would be. The fact that the whole thing is driven by gambling and big bucks makes real perspective go out the window. All sports have become more extreme and this is no exception. I applaud PETA’s efforts in this and I hope they continue.

  • Wendy Barry says:

    Even though I find no humor in this tragic turn of events I find the comments from so called horse trainers and horse racing enthusiast’s on here to be absolutely LAUGHABLE! To compare this event to sporting events involving humans is ridiculous and completely out of context. A human playing a sport that could cause injury is doing so under his own will and choice. A race horse does not have this option. A race horse cannot tell you “hey my ankle is bothering me a little today” or “I dont feel very well so I am going to skip this competition”. A human has the ability to make informed choices regarding his own well being. A race horse does not get to make that choice. This is what sickens me about all of these so called “horse lovers” that speak out of both side’s of their mouth. In one breath touting how much they love and cherish their horses but out of the other they are instructing a trainer or jockey to run a 2 year old until she breaks. Literally. Good job PETA for bringing attention to this issue. I completely support the banning of whips changing of the material on the track and making the starting age limit for race horses 5. I think the regulatory agencies need to pay closer atention to the training of these beautiful animals and stricter regulations be put in place. God rest your soul Eight Belles you had no warriors in life but we will be your warriors now.

  • ann says:

    i would like to whip the derby officialthe vet at the race the breeder the owner of the horse the trainer the jocky and the poeple who bet on those horses.

  • Jennifer says:

    I have to say that the article was not written well and the person has not a clue what happened. Get your facts right before you assume. It is sad when a horse gets a bad break but she was a well treated horse and she did not break her legs during the race. It was after the race. She ran with no injury.

  • Annalena says:

    Oh celebration! What an honour! Eight Belles was glorified by having her legs give out under her to never get up again. She died doing what she loved! Running in manic circles while an anorexic man beat her. How can you simply say she was honoured to die doing what she “loved”. This is not an honour but a travesty. Watching all the wealthy white people with their cleavage and stupid hats celebrate while Eight Belles lay dying was vomit worthy.The dog fighting analogy is really not that far off. I would say dog fihting is the more brutal of the two. However they both use animals as entertainment and money making tools for human “pleasure”. If you really love horses let them have free range of a plot of land where they can run together.I have no reason to believe that these people care for their horses any more than those who dump their greyhounds when they are no longer “useful”.The show dog industry also has its similarities. Treating an animal like some beautiful celebrity because of their pure blood is ridiculous.Accessories to be admired. The problem is not that Eight Belles was euthanizedobviously. It was the most humane way of death for her. The true cause of death was the industry. She would never have died if she was not raced as a baby in this ruthless industry. The reaction was also sickening the crowd mostly just ignored the situation and cheered for their winnings.Animals like Eight Belles are not a means to our ends they are an end within themselves. Stop treating them like mere property at your disposal.

  • EBC says:

    Get over it people. If we didn’t have horse racing what other use would horses have on this earth? These horses are treated better than most of us.

  • Mary Kinslow says:

    Apparently alot of you do not realize that there are no more slaughterhouses for horses in the US. Thanks to PETA and Humane Society of the United States the horses are sent to Mexico to have a worse death at slaughter houses then they had here. I do not know where you get your info but alot of xrace horses are put to use as good saddle horses and find good homes after racing. The whipping of the horse b4 the finish line had nothing to do with her breakdownit was a very sad day for all the connections with Eight Belles do not demorlize her or them she died doing what she loved to do.

  • Beverly Sharp says:

    I am a huge animal lover but I have to admit that I also love to go to the track and watch the horses. But after watching what happened to Eight Belles I will never again attend or watch another horse race. The agony that poor girl must have been in before crossing the finish line and then hearing how her jockey repeatedly whipped her makes me ill. I have had an epiphany and will never take enjoyment in that so called sport again.

  • M. Coleman says:

    No offence but I think you guys are being terrible about tis. Don’t get me wrong I cried when she died but these horses love to run! Remember that!

  • cowgirlupnburn says:

    It is pure GREED when the commentator announced this filly had feet problems and they solved it by putting pads on her feet for the race. RED FLAG if an animal has a condition and you are going to use them in this capacity what vet in their right mind out allow that filly to get on the track knowing the compression rate on her legs. The jockey would not have been able to immediately feel her beat however he does ride this filly often so he should have been able to notice her stride. Again the vet that okay’d this filly to enter this race should be sanctioned. In this class of ownership with derby horses hush money is used but somebody forgot to tell the commentator. When I turned on the race not knowing it was running immediately I picked up on that comment. May Eight Belles rest knowing she is comfortable. That was a very nice filly in all aspects.