Following the shocking death of the horse that Senator Hillary Clinton publicly bet on in the Kentucky Derby, PETA has asked her to denounce this dirty “sport.”
In a letter to the Senator today, PETA’s president pointed out that Eight Belles was fiercely whipped in the final stretch just before the bone in her ankles broke through her skin and she crashed to the ground. Given that the joints of the young horses used in these races are not yet fully formed, this kind of accident is inevitable, and the expressions of surprise about this incident from within the horseracing industry are utterly fake. In her letter to the Senator—which points out that Eight Belles is just one out of a long list of horses who have broken their legs and had to be killed throughout the history of the Triple Crown and the hundreds more who die every year in the horseracing industry—PETA’s president writes:
“Attending the Derby is as despicable as attending a dogfight. For most—not a few—of the horses you see will not end up put out to pasture on a beautiful ranch but will be sent overseas to be slaughtered for someone’s dinner plate. At some point, all horses stop winning.”
The letter asks Clinton to withdraw her public support of horseracing, and condemn the cruel “sport” instead.
I should point out here that PETA is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to stopping the exploitation and abuse of animals. PETA’s condemnation of Hillary Clinton for betting on horses and its request that she denounce horseracing are in no way intended as intervention in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for political office.
Here’s the letter:
Dear Senator Clinton:
As a high profile political figure with the esteem of many women, I regret to say that your public support of horseracing—and specifically betting on Eight Belles—makes you culpable in her destruction. I ask you now to publicly condemn races like the Kentucky Derby. Eight Belles ran for her life and was fiercely whipped as she came down that final stretch when she was no doubt in a great deal of pain. We cannot call ourselves a civilized nation if we allow any living being to endure such abuse.
Races like this are the equivalent of child sweatshops. These are not even seasoned horses: They are young fillies and colts whose joints are not formed enough to endure such a grueling race. Despite this, they are pushed beyond their limits. The Triple Crown and other major horse races have become the graveyards of too many horses who were called champions. For example, Go For Wand, who went down in the 1990 Breeders’ Cup Distaff and then stumbled up and tried to keep running with her broken leg dangling; Union City, who fractured a leg in the 1993 Preakness and was destroyed; Prairie Bayou, who that same year suffered a compound fracture in the Belmont Stakes and had to be destroyed; George Washington, who was euthanized after breaking his leg while running the Preakness last year; and of course Barbaro, the “poster horse” of the racing industry’s failures and excesses, who despite efforts could not be saved from the injuries sustained during the 2006 Preakness. Barbaro’s injuries were terrible—fractures of his canon bone, sesamoids, and long pastern as well as the dislocation of the fetlock joint. These are just a few of the horses we hear about—they are the winners, the horses who run the big races. Hundreds of horses meet the same painful, deadly fate every year in the horseracing industry.A race track is not a place for a fun day out, and we are writing to Chelsea on that score. Attending the Derby is as despicable as attending a dogfight. For most—not a few—of the horses you see will not end up put out to pasture on a beautiful ranch but will be sent overseas to be slaughtered for someone’s dinner plate. At some point, all horses stop winning.
PETA takes no position on whether you win or lose the race you are in, but we call on you to publicly reject betting on such hideous spectacles of domination over wonderful animals who deserve more than pain and death for human profit and amusement.
Very truly yours,
Ingrid E. Newkirk