Can Kentucky Derby fans handle the truth? Outdoor advertisers in Louisville don’t seem to think so. We sent the ad below to every billboard and bus ad company in town with the intention of running it during next week’s Derby, but they all turned us down flat.
We wanted racegoers—and everyone—to know that the horrific on-track breakdown of Eight Belles at the end of the 2008 Kentucky Derby was no fluke. On average, three horses break down on racetracks in America every single day. That adds up to at least 2,000 racehorses dead on tracks since Eight Belles collapsed two years ago after both her front ankles snapped.
After being prodded by PETA, the racing industry has made some improvements, including banning steroids from the states where Triple Crown races are run, but the misuse of legal drugs is still the biggest cause of breakdowns and deaths, and the industry has yet to address that issue in any meaningful way.
Many trainers use injections of painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs to mask fatigue and injury and make horses feel well enough to run when they should be resting and recovering. Racing subjects horses’ bodies to punishing stresses that can lead to breakdowns. Racing insiders tell us that some horses are injected with various drugs 25 to 30 times in the week before a race, and it’s all legal.
PETA advocates a ban on all drugs during the week leading up to a race, among other reforms. Please take a moment to send an e-mail to the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority to let its officials know that Eight Belles has not been forgotten and to demand that the authority take steps to ensure that no more horses die in pursuit of the roses. As for the Derby: Don’t go, don’t watch, and don’t bet.
Written by Alisa Mullins