When a horse is in last place—by 16 lengths—with no chance of winning or even placing, should she be whipped repeatedly? We don’t think so, and we’re calling on Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler to launch an investigation into a recent act of apparent cruelty to animals by jockey Edwin Rivera at Parx Casino and Racing near Philadelphia. Video from the March 6 race shows Rivera riding a mare named Forgetthefantasy—and as she fades to last place, Rivera appears to whip her repeatedly and forcefully. As we note in our letter, Pennsylvania’s cruelty-to-animals statute prohibits wantonly or cruelly ill-treating, overloading, beating, or otherwise abusing any animal.
“Rivera had no hope of pushing this mare out of last place and into the money, so it seems that he beat her in anger, to punish her, in what PETA believes is an illegal act of cruelty to animals,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “Pennsylvania’s anti-cruelty law exists to protect animals like this abused horse, and PETA is calling on the district attorney’s office to file all appropriate charges against the jockey.”
Following the incident, Parx stewards fined Rivera $250 for “misuse of the whip,” and Rivera’s actions have been condemned by members of the horse-racing industry. Industry website Equibase, which has no animal-advocacy affiliation, described the whipping incident as “rather excessive and severe.” PETA is calling on Parx to ban Rivera from all future races at the track.