Heat Hazard for Horses: Cancel Grants Pass Downs Races, Urges PETA

For Immediate Release:
June 30, 2023

David Perle 202-483-7382

Grants Pass, Ore. – With temperatures expected to reach 100 degrees in Grants Pass Saturday through Tuesday, PETA rushed a letter this morning to Grants Pass Downs CEO Rod Lowe urging him to cancel the upcoming races, noting that high temperatures can put horses at risk of experiencing brain damage, heatstroke, and fatal cardiac trauma.

“Horses are pushed to the limit every time they race, and the added physical stress caused by skyrocketing temperatures can have deadly consequences,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “PETA is calling on Grants Pass Downs to prevent more tragedies by canceling races in the face of extreme heat.”

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 Lowe follows.

June 30, 2023

Rod Lowe


Grants Pass Downs

Dear Mr. Lowe:

I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals—PETA entities have more than 9 million members and supporters globally— to urge you to protect horses by cancelling racing at Grants Pass Downs this weekend and through Tuesday during the extreme heat advisory.

Temperatures are expected to reach 100 degrees in Grants Pass when races are scheduled. Horses are pushed to the limit every time they race, and the additional stress of skyrocketing temperatures can cause brain damage, collapse as a result of heatstroke, and fatal cardiac trauma. Extra caution should be taken if horses are racing on Lasix, a diuretic that can cause dehydration and that compounds the risks of racing in extreme heat. Many horses have experienced breakdowns or collapsed because of heat, including Merciless Cat, who suffered a catastrophic breakdown after his aorta burst when the temperature at the track was over 100 degrees—footage is available here (2:25).

To protect the health of horses and jockeys, tracks across the country have previously postponed races when high temperatures or heat indexes were expected, including last summer when Churchill Downs and Monmouth Park canceled races after dangerously hot conditions were forecast.

An average of three horses die in racing every day, and extreme heat can easily add to this death toll. By cancelling racing until temperatures cool down, racetracks can help prevent further heat-related deaths. Please take immediate action to protect horses in Oregon.

Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you.


Kathy Guillermo

Senior Vice President

Equine Matters Department

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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