‘Bush Track’ Deaths Prompt PETA Appeal to Ruidoso Horse Auction

For Immediate Release:
September 1, 2022

David Perle 202-483-7382

Ruidoso, N.M.

After two prominent horses with ties to Ruidoso Downs died last week after being raced at an unsanctioned “bush track,” PETA sent a letter today to Walt Wiggins of All American Ruidoso Horse Sales, the organizer of the yearling auction scheduled for Labor Day weekend at Ruidoso Downs, and to the track’s general manager, Ethan Linder, urging them to bar any sales to those who participate in unregulated match races.

The appeal follows PETA’s 10-month investigation into underground Quarter Horse racing, which revealed racing teams’ practices of electroshocking horses and doping them with drugs such as methamphetamine, cocaine, Ritalin, and other substances, resulting in injuries (including fatal ones) to horses and jockeys. Last week’s deaths at Carril Red Springs in North Carolina were of Grade 1 winners Trump My Record—whose lineage is promoted in the sales catalog for the upcoming auction at Ruidoso Downs—and Hotstepper (whose bush racing name is El Perron). Both were successful on mainstream Quarter Horse tracks—and Hotstepper won the 2018 $1.2 million All American Derby at Ruidoso Downs—before they were sold to barnstorm as featured attractions on the underground circuit.

“Black market races are chewing up Quarter Horses and spitting them out. They can’t even keep their superstars alive,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “PETA is calling on the auction organizers at Ruidoso Downs to put policies in place to prevent more vulnerable horses from ending up electroshocked, doped, and killed at underground bush tracks.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Wiggins and Linder follows.

September 1, 2022

Walt Wiggins
All American Ruidoso Horse Sales LLC

Ethan Linder
General Manager
Ruidoso Downs

Dear Messrs. Wiggins and Linder:

I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals U.S.—PETA entities have more than 9 million members and supporters globally—to request that you immediately amend your current sales policies for the approaching 2022 Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale and all future sales to deny bidder registrations for those who are now engaged in unsanctioned match racing or who sell horses to those involved in unregulated racing.

PETA recently released the results of a 10-month investigation into underground Quarter Horse racing, exposing widespread doping with substances including methamphetamine, cocaine, and Ritalin; the use of electric shock devices; injuries, including fatal ones, to both horses and jockeys; and the exchange of hundreds of thousands of dollars in apparently illegal gambling at Rancho El Centenario, the largest black market track, or “bush track,” in Georgia. PETA has now filed complaints with state and local authorities calling for criminal investigations into these and other acts that appear to violate numerous laws. Our video footage is available here, and photographs are available here.

Recently, three horses used in “bush track” racing in South Carolina were euthanized after contracting equine infectious anemia, likely from shared needles. PETA has documentation of well over 100 similar underground racetracks­—all of which could serve as breeding grounds for diseases.

As you may know, famous Quarter Horses Trump My Record and 2018 Ruidoso Downs All American Derby winner Hotstepper—both bred by Fulton Quien Sabe Ranch—died after racing in underground match races last weekend at Carril Red Springs in North Carolina. Both horses were Grade 1 winners on mainstream Quarter Horse tracks before being sold to race as star attractions on the underground circuit. Trump My Record and Hotstepper (also called “El Perron”) were raced by Cuadra Cristo Rey, a stable that PETA had filmed injecting its horses before races earlier this year and using jockeys wearing electric shock devices. Both horses’ lineages are promoted in the sales catalog for the upcoming event at Ruidoso Downs. Policies must be established so that these yearlings don’t meet the same fate.

Thank you for your time and consideration. May I please hear from you?


Kathy Guillermo
Senior Vice President
Equine Matters Department

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