For Immediate Release:
May 30, 2023
David Perle 202-483-7382
Louisville, Ky. – The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) has launched an investigation into the recent deaths of 12 horses at Churchill Downs, so today, PETA rushed a letter to HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus urging her to suspend all racing and timed workouts at the track until the investigation is complete.
“It makes no sense to force horses to race and train while you’re trying to figure out why they’re dying during racing and training,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “PETA is calling on HISA to protect horses by suspending these activities at Churchill Downs until the investigation is complete.”
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
PETA’s letter to Lazarus follows.
May 30, 2023
Lisa Lazarus, CEO
Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority
Dear Ms. Lazarus:
Thank you for announcing the HISA investigation into the deaths at Churchill Downs. I’m writing as a matter of urgency to ask that you suspend racing and timed workouts at the track until the investigation is complete.
It’s likely that one or more factors are contributing to the fatalities. Whether it’s medication masking preexisting injuries, tired horses with a recent history of multi-length losses being forced to run, illegal drugging, track surface issues, inadequate or underutilized veterinary exams, the absence of screening technology, or a combination of these and other issues, it’s clear that Churchill Downs is not currently safe for Thoroughbreds. It makes little sense to investigate the cause or causes for the deaths while continuing to risk the lives of dozens of other horses.
We urge you also to investigate the escape of horses before the races. Lost in Limbo broke away from handlers, threw the jockey, and ran loose nearly the full length of the track’s backstretch before he was captured. He should have been scratched at that point. Instead, he was put through the starting gate for a final—and deadly—race. It appears that he may not have had a thorough veterinary examination after he was caught. Is it possible that Lost in Limbo was sore and trying desperately to avoid the stress and rigor of the race? In these circumstances, stewards should immediately scratch the horse.
May I please hear from you that racing and timed workouts in training will be suspended at Churchill Downs, effective immediately? Thank you.
Senior Vice President
Equine Matters Department