Kentucky Derby and Preakness Champion Rescued
Update: Thanks to successful negotiations by the Thoroughbred rescue group Old Friends, 2002 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem is set to head back to the United States after being sent to Japan for breeding over a decade ago. PETA eyewitness investigators met War Emblem during our 2009 investigation of the horse slaughter industry in Japan, where 90 percent of former racehorses, including dozens of Thoroughbreds from the U.S., are killed every year. Despite testosterone injections and other treatments, War Emblem was no longer making any money as a stud, putting his life in imminent danger. Fellow Kentucky Derby and Preakness champion Charismatic is still in Japan.
Originally posted on June 5, 2009:
In 2002, the 1986 Kentucky Derby champ, Ferdinand, was slaughtered after his breeding days in Japan were done.
Fast-forward to 2009: Two more horses, Charismatic and War Emblem—Kentucky Derby champs from 1999 and 2002 respectively—may also face slaughter as their usefulness to breeders comes to an end.
After breaking his leg in the 1999 Belmont, Charismatic was sold to breeders in Japan. His value as a breeding stallion has dropped dramatically (to approximately US$5,000), and he has been moved to the lowest-ranking of breeding farms.
Just a few years ago, horse-racing fans cheered as Charismatic and War Emblem ran away with top prizes at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Now, PETA’s most recent undercover investigation shows what could be in store for these once-celebrated stallions and thousands of other horses sold into the Japanese thoroughbred industry.
Each year in Japan, more than 20,000 horses, including many horses once used for racing, are slaughtered for dog and human food. This video shows the slaughter of a young thoroughbred. As stated in the New York Times, “The video is disturbing. It shows in graphic terms what happens to the unfortunate thoroughbreds who become spare parts in a contracting industry.”
You can blame the U.S. horse-racing industry for the carnage. It routinely breeds tens of thousands of “surplus” thoroughbreds every year, then sells thousands of them to breeding facilities in Japan. More than 2,000 U.S. thoroughbred horses and breeding mares have been shipped to Japan since Ferdinand was slaughtered in 2002.
Just last year, Americans watched in horror as racing filly Eight Belles suffered fractures to both her front ankles and was euthanized just moments after running the Kentucky Derby. How can anyone not be disgusted by the shuffling of thousands of horses off to Japan and into slaughterhouses?
Join us in defending former Derby and Preakness champs Charismatic and War Emblem—and thousands of other thoroughbreds. Demand limits on breeding and a ban on the export of horses to Japan.
Written by Karin Bennett