Animal activists have sent a warning to Kentucky’s horse racing industry. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has officially put the state on notice that the organization is watching the industry closely. PETA has been busy in California due to 23 racehorse deaths at the Santa Anita track. Now the group is focusing its efforts on Kentucky to ensure horses are being treated humanely.
Horse death in Keeneland
PETA has been protesting at the Santa Anita race track for some time because 23 horse deaths took place there in two months. The focus of the group has now shifted to Kentucky after a horse died there over the weekend. Officials of PETA have said they will be at the annual shareholders meeting of Churchill Downs Inc. later this month with questions.
Churchill Downs Inc. operates the Churchill Downs Racetrack, the home of the Kentucky Derby. The track has a high death rate and PETA wants to ask questions of the executives about animal protection.
Senior Vice President of PETA Kathy Guillermo said: “No horses died during Santa Anita Derby weekend, which seems to show that the track’s new rules — while not as strong as PETA would have liked — are a lifesaving step. Now, all eyes will be on Kentucky, where Churchill Downs — home of the Kentucky Derby — has the second-worst death rate for horses in the country.”
At Keeneland in Kentucky, the thoroughbred Cathedral Reader broke a leg over the weekend. The horse was euthanized. PETA is calling out Keeneland for the April sale hosted by the track. According to the group, two-year-old horses will be forced to run, risking injury and death, in order to sell at a high price during the Keeneland horse sale.
For the annual sale at Keeneland, horses run sprints one day and are sold the next. The property is home to the largest thoroughbred auction house in the world.
California track changes
The horse race industry entered the spotlight last month when the Santa Anita Racetrack closed to test the facility due to multiple horse deaths. According to VSO News, more than 20 horses that raced at the track died in two months.
The Stronach Group owns the Santa Anita track. The group recently announced new rules to better protect the horses at the facility. Included in the changes are limits to the use of furosemide and whips.
On top of these changes, the Association of Racing Commissioners International issued a statement involving bisphosphonates. The drug, aimed at osteoporosis, may cause a horse to be denied entry into a race. The group said that the organization is currently working on a policy involving the controversial drug to recommend to states.
The drugs have become a hot topic of debate because horse fatalities increased by 80% during last year’s racing season.
It is believed that bisphosphonates, which are used on older horses for navicular bone disease, interfere with bone formation when used in younger horses. Officials are recommending that the industry stop using the drugs on horses under the age of four.
According to the Racing Commissioners, if bisphosphonate is found to have been used for a race, the trainer will be fined and suspended. The horse will be excluded from competing for a period ranging from 30 days to one year.