Bodies may not be buried at Churchill Downs, but with so many horses having drawn their last breath there after having been run to death, it might as well be a cemetery. And for two days it will be, when PETA erects 265 headstones outside the racetrack this week.
The gravestones will represent the horses who have died on the track since last year’s Kentucky Derby and whose names we know. One headstone will represent the approximately 832 other horses who have died but whose names are not known—because racetracks are so bad at reporting breakdowns and deaths—and one headstone for the approximately 12,000 thoroughbreds who are sent off to slaughter each year.
It makes me physically ill to think of how many people actually get dressed up and rush out to the racetrack to watch these horses run to their grave. Yeah, horses do like to run—but do they like to be beaten and drugged too? Or euthanized after they suffer crippling injuries from being forced to perform? I don’t think so. Horse-racing is every bit as unnatural and cruel as the circus or the zoo, and horses often times end up in slaughterhouses—just like all of the other unfortunate animals who humans seem to disregard.
This year, nearing the anniversary of Eight Belle’s death at Churchill Downs, PETA will be there to remind everyone of the horse-racing industry’s death toll. What are we asking? Well, for a permanent ban on the use of drugs to mask injuries. For an industry that claims to love their horses, just what is taking so long?
If you love horses, please don’t support the horse-racing industry—it’s that simple. Just like any other industry that makes money off of the exploitation of animals, horse-racing is dirty and deadly for the animals involved. After all, by my calculations, the horse-racing industry has caused 13,095 horses to die this past year alone. That’s enough to fill a cemetery plus some.
For anyone who truly loves horses—the only true victory would be getting them off the track.