Heat Prompts Call to Suspend Races at Albuquerque Downs

PETA Warns That High Temperatures Put Horses at Risk of Brain Damage, Heatstroke, and Fatal Cardiac Trauma

For Immediate Release:
August 13, 2020

David Perle 202-483-7382

Albuquerque, NM – With temperatures expected to reach at least 95 degrees on Friday afternoon when races are scheduled to run, PETA sent an urgent letter this afternoon calling on Albuquerque Downs stewards to suspend all races on August 14—and every subsequent day with high temperatures.

“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,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “PETA is calling on Albuquerque Downs officials to prevent tragedy by suspending racing tomorrow and whenever New Mexico faces 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.

PETA’s letter to Albuquerque Downs stewards follows.

August 13, 2020

Re High Temperatures at Albuquerque Downs

Dear Stewards,

I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide to urge you to protect horses by suspending racing at Albuquerque Downs tomorrow and this weekend during the current high temperatures.

Temperatures are expected to reach close to 95 degrees in Albuquerque on Friday afternoon when races are scheduled to run. The temperatures and the heat index are forecast to be even higher over the weekend. 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, which can cause dehydration and compounds the risks of racing in extreme heat. There are many examples of horses experiencing breakdowns or collapsing because of heat, including Merciless Cat, who experienced 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 Monmouth Park made the responsible decision to postpone the starting time of the Haskell Invitational. Many other tracks, including Saratoga, Woodbine, Belterra Park, Ellis Park, Laurel Park, and Parx Racing, have canceled races when dangerous temperatures were forecast.

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

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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