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—it’s a dirty business and no better than dogfighting.
“It might be too late for Barbaro and Eight Belles but, with your help, we can protect other horses from suffering abuse in the racing industry—abuse that often results in tragedy.