PETA Billboard Will Drive Home Message That Kentucky Derby Is a Horse Graveyard

For Immediate Release:
April 28, 2021

David Perle 202-483-7382

Louisville, Ky. – PETA wants everyone who wants to save horses’ lives to practice moral distancing and stay away from Churchill Downs. This is the message that will be delivered via a mobile billboard driven around the racetrack this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

The racing industry’s own statistics show that fewer broken bones and deaths occur on synthetic surfaces than on either dirt or turf, so PETA—which owns stock in Churchill Downs, Inc.—has asked the company to report on the feasibility of switching the dirt track to a modern synthetic surface. The company has so far refused to do so.

“As long as horses are dying at Churchill Downs, no one should be attending or betting on the Kentucky Derby,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “PETA is calling for moral distancing from Churchill Downs in protest of the 25 horses—each a thinking, feeling individual—who died there last year.”

According to The Jockey Club’s Equine Injury Database, from 2009 through 2019, there were more than 6,500 horse fatalities nationally. The highest rate of catastrophic injuries occurred on dirt tracks: There were 1.19 fatal injuries per 1,000 starts on synthetic tracks vs. 1.94 such injuries on dirt surfaces and 1.48 on turf. More than 100 horses’ lives would be spared per year if races were run on synthetic instead of dirt tracks. These statistics don’t even factor in all the training deaths on dirt tracks.

The billboard will be driven along Central Avenue outside Churchill Downs tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., on Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from 6 to 8 p.m., and on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

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

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