On Saturday, May 21, 2016, the world received yet another reminder that when you support horse racing, you support drug abuse. Two horses, Homeboykris and Pramedya, died during the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore. Although death on the racetrack is nothing new—an estimated three Thoroughbreds die every day in North America because of catastrophic injuries during races—it’s still shocking when animals are pushed beyond their physical breaking points for the sake of human entertainment.
According to reports, Homeboykris died shortly after having his picture taken in the winner’s circle, while Pramedya was euthanized on the track after breaking her left front leg.
PETA wants to know what condition these horses were in before the races and is calling on their owners to immediately release veterinary records and a complete list of medications that the horses were administered in the two weeks before the Preakness races.
BREAKING: Two horses have died at #Preakness horse race today. R.I.P. Pramedya and Homeboykris.
— PETA (@peta) May 21, 2016
Studies—and our own investigations—have shown that most breakdowns and deaths occur because horses have pre-existing injuries that are masked by the excessive use of legal medications. We want to know if that is what happened in the cases of Pramedya and Homeboykris. We have been advocating for no medications to be administered to horses in the two weeks before a race so that if a horse is sore or ill, the track veterinarian will be able to detect it. In today’s racing drug culture, at least three horses are dying every day on U.S. tracks. The foolish use of muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory drugs, and other medications must end now.
UPDATE: The necropsy report on the death of Homeboykris revealed no known cause for the heart attack that killed him – but did show he had 6 times the allowable amount of a strong anti-inflammatory drug in his system.
Statement from PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo on Homeboykris’ necropsy results:
Whatever caused the heart attack that killed Homeboykris, the elevated levels of corticosteroid in his blood clearly show that he should never have been on that track. He was apparently so sore that he was given a powerful anti-inflammatory drug in order to cope with the pain. The use of medication to keep horses on the track when they should be recuperating leads to breakdowns and should be prohibited. Homeboykris’ trainer also violated medication rules, and the $500 slap on the wrist that he got is unlikely to prevent such behavior in the future. He needs to keep injured and sore horses off the track, period.
What You Can Do
Please contact your U.S. representative and ask him or her to support the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act of 2015, which would increase the oversight of drug use in horse racing and raise penalties for drug overuse.
Remember that the best thing that you can do for racehorses is never to attend or place a bet on any race, including the Preakness Stakes, the Kentucky Derby, and the Belmont Stakes.