American Thoroughbreds used for racing today are so fragile that there are more than 1,000 fatal injuries on racetracks every year. Most major stakes-winning horses are retired at a very young age and rushed to the breeding shed to avoid risking catastrophic breakdowns. Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, for example, was retired when he was just 3 years old after only 11 races.
At the other end of the spectrum was Doctor Titilo.
He was still being forced to race at 13 years old, well past the age by which most horses have been retired, and he had raced far more than any other horse in North America—an astonishing 189 times. His owner didn’t care about his age or that he was no longer competitive. He just wanted the bragging rights for getting Doctor Titilo to race 200 times, even though he was laboring in races and hadn’t won in 37 consecutive starts.
Like most horses used for racing, Doctor Titilo was whipped in races and likely suffered from a regimen of drugs to mask the pain of chronic injuries.
In Puerto Rico, where he was raced, there are few retirement options for such horses and many are slaughtered immediately after their careers end, as was revealed in an Associated Press exposé.
After PETA heard about his situation, we initiated efforts to try to retire him and bring him safely to the mainland U.S., but an equine-rescue organization in Puerto Rico told us that the horse’s owner refused to sell him until he had raced 200 times.
Tragically, we have just learned from this organization that Doctor Titilo died last week, reportedly from colic.
This video shows his final race. He’s the beautiful gray horse who fades to near the back of the pack shortly after the start.
It may be too late for Doctor Titilo, but you can still help us save other horses in need today.
Don’t attend, watch, or bet on horse races while the cruelty continues, and urge your legislators to support the Safeguard American Food Exports Act of 2015 and the John Rainey Memorial Safeguard American Food Exports Act, which would effectively end the slaughter of American horses.