PETA Seeks State Horse Racing Commission Investigation
For Immediate Release:
January 26, 2022
David Perle 202-483-7382
Youngstown, Ohio – Today, PETA is calling on Ohio State Racing Commission Executive Director Chris Dragone to investigate the death of Thoroughbred mare Hoboken Hustle, who was euthanized after apparently breaking her leg when forced to race at Mahoning Valley Race Course in snowy, below-freezing weather on January 24. PETA’s letter points out that dirt racetracks can freeze in cold weather and that the hardened surface can increase stress on horses’ legs and lead to injuries. PETA advises suspending racing until temperatures rise to prevent further deaths.
“As the track freezes, it hardens, meaning that the horses are racing on a less cushioned surface that puts more stressful impact on their bones, leading to injuries,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “PETA is urging the Ohio State Racing Commission to investigate this horse’s death and determine whether the race should’ve been canceled because of unsafe conditions.”
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 Dragone follows.
January 26, 2022
Ohio State Racing Commission
Dear Mr. Dragone:
I am writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals—PETA entities have more than 9 million members and supporters globally—to request an investigation into the fatal breakdown of a 6-year-old Thoroughbred mare, Hoboken Hustle, during race nine on Monday, January 24, 2022, at Mahoning Valley Race Course. She was trained by Joseph M. Poole and owned by Christi Esposito.
The environmental conditions surrounding the death of Hoboken Hustle require close examination. The temperature was a recorded high of 27 degrees in Youngstown, Ohio, on Monday. The preceding Saturday and Sunday, the high reached only 25 degrees. In the video replay of the incident, snow is visible around the track before Hoboken Hustle is injured. Video replay is available here at 0:48 and here at 0:39.
Horses are pushed to the limit every time they race, and the additional stress of plummeting temperatures can cause lung injury and damage to their respiratory tracts. Extra caution should be taken with horses who have a history of moderate to severe exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage, as they experience an increased risk of respiratory distress in the extreme cold. Snow, combined with temperatures as low as those on Monday at Mahoning Valley Race Course, can quickly become dangerous for horses: As the track freezes, it hardens, meaning the horses are racing on a less cushioned surface that puts more stressful impact on their bones, leading to injuries. Was this the case with Hoboken Hustle?
To protect the health of horses and jockeys, tracks across the country have previously postponed races when dangerous temperatures were expected, including Parx Racing in Pennsylvania. When it canceled its racing card for Monday, January 24, 2022, the high temperature expected for the day near the track was 36 degrees.
An average of three horses die in racing every day, and extreme cold can easily add to this death toll. Hoboken Hustle was racing on a dirt track, which is harder and is known to cause more fatalities than synthetic and turf surfaces—this is exacerbated if the dirt track is frozen. By suspending racing until temperatures rise, racetracks can help forestall further deaths. Please take immediate action to protect horses in Ohio by investigating the death of Hoboken Hustle and implementing cold-weather policies for racing.
Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from you.
Senior Vice President
Equine Matters Department