‘Open Welt’ Whipping at Prairie Meadows Prompts PETA Complaint

Sheriff's Office Asked to Investigate Jockey Ramon Vazquez for Horse Abuse

For Immediate Release:
June 17, 2019

David Perle 202-483-7382

Altoona, Iowa – This morning, PETA sent a letter calling on Polk County Sheriff Kevin J. Schneider to launch an investigation into the apparent abuse of a Thoroughbred horse by jockey Ramon Vazquez at Prairie Meadows racetrack near Altoona.

Video footage from a May 18 race shows Vazquez riding Special Trip—and even though there was no expectation that the Thoroughbred filly could win, the jockey whipped her dozens of times, leaving an open wound on her right flank. As PETA notes in its letter, Iowa law prohibits individuals from intentionally injuring an animal owned by another person as well as causing pain or suffering in a manner inconsistent with customary animal husbandry practices.

Following the May 18 event, racing stewards fined Vazquez $500 and noted that he has repeatedly faced penalties for “excessive/indiscriminate whipping.” On August 3, 2018, stewards fined him $1,000 for whipping mare Underpressure 48 times in the final 3.5 furlongs of a race. PETA is asking the sheriff’s office to investigate both incidents.

“Any whipping of horses in races is unacceptable, but Ramon Vazquez whipped this filly until her skin broke in an act that PETA believes is illegal,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “Because repeated fines haven’t stopped Vazquez from whipping horses, PETA is calling on the Polk County Sheriff’s Office to step in and take action to end his pattern of violence.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way”—opposes speciesism, which is a human-supremacist worldview. The group’s letter to Polk County officials is available upon request.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind