For years now, the horse racing industry has systematically ignored efforts by the animal protection community and its own disgusted insiders, including some veterinarians who aren’t afraid where their bread is “buttered,” to make life more tolerable for the horses it profits from. Given this weekend’s horror at the Kentucky Derby, we’re hoping that the members of the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority and others within the industry will now be forced to take these issues seriously. If they don’t care about the suffering of these animals, perhaps their PR people will give them a reason to care.
This morning, PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk sent a letter to the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority proposing changes in the rules that would result in a drastic reduction of the types of injuries that claimed the life of Eight Belles in the running of the Kentucky Derby. The maudlin expressions of regret and sadness over the Eight Belles incident that we’re hearing from people within the industry are ringing pretty hollow right now. If they genuinely want to do something to try and prevent incidents like this in the future, they can start with the following:
- Suspend the jockey and bar the trainer from racing other horses
- Thoroughbreds under the age of three should not be permitted to race
- Synthetic surfaces or grass turf—which result in dramatically fewer injuries—should be mandated at all racecourses
- The number of races that horses run in a season should be limited
- Whipping should be banned
You can read PETA’s letter here. I’ll keep you posted.