Churchill Downs: Racetrack or Graveyard?

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Posted April 30, 2009 by Rachelle Owen

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.

Stay loud!
-Rachel
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  • 2088 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Twenty thousand dogs die every year in the U.S.as a result of illegal dogfighting. Thirteen thousand horses die every year in the U.S. directly or indirectly from horse racing. One is sponsored primarily by wealthy people the other primarily by poor people,both are obviously cruel sports,but guess which one is illegal.Carry on Micheal Vick.

  • 2088 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Twenty thousand dogs die every year in the U.S.as a result of illegal dogfighting. Thirteen thousand horses die every year in the U.S. directly or indirectly from horse racing. One is sponsored primarily by wealthy people the other primarily by poor people,both are obviously cruel sports,but guess which one is illegal.Carry on Micheal Vick.

  • 2182 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

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    many people go to horse races to enjoy the race but they are unaware of the cruelty involved in it. horses are treated badly before the race. they beaten and threatened just to win the race. i hope people understand the fact behind it and stop encouraging the horse race.

  • 2182 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    many people go to horse races to enjoy the race but they are unaware of the cruelty involved in it. horses are treated badly before the race. they beaten and threatened just to win the race. i hope people understand the fact behind it and stop encouraging the horse race.

  • 2183 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

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    I have a horse of my own who the previous own had shown, when he turned ten, he was considered “useless”. I don’t support racing, rodeos, dressage, jumping, or shows whatsoever I’ts terrible.

  • 2183 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    I have a horse of my own who the previous own had shown, when he turned ten, he was considered “useless”. I don’t support racing, rodeos, dressage, jumping, or shows whatsoever I’ts terrible.

  • 2183 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

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    i don’t care how much of a ‘tradition’ it is or how much people ‘try’ to help the horses. if there’s that many horses dying, there’s something wrong with it, simple as that.

  • 2183 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

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    o come on

  • 2184 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

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    “…but spend ten minutes at a farm and you will realize that it is nothing but cruel to them.”
    I love how in your rant to defend something so cruel, you accidentally said that it was cruel. Way to go, Lauren W.
    Even before I was vegan, I was against horse racing. It is a horribly cruel sport. I have an ex- race horse who has back problems because he was ridden at such a young age. Most of the horses on the track are only two or three years old and they are not yet mature enough to support gentle riding, let alone the abuse of being forced to run everyday.

  • 2184 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

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    I will say that I did watch the Derby last year and I cried when they had to put Eight Belles Down. After that the derby just makes me sick.

  • 2184 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

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    I completely agree with lauren w. Horse-racing isn’t animal cruelty.

  • 2184 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

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    My horse used to be a racehorse and my mom and her boyfriend fully support racing, which is totally disgusting. I can proudly say that I refuse to go with them when they take their trips to Kentucky for the races, though. It’s a sick industry and the profit racetracks make is just more proof of how often people use animals for their entertainment.

  • 2184 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

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    it not funny how they treat those poor horse and not cool my mom & my lil siter love 2 ride horse i luv horse but i all ways get scare my mom & my sis dont run like those race horse they walk ith them and rde with and those nice stuff

  • 2185 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

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    I am so angry at PETA for this. I love animals and I am an active member of peta but this is going way too far. I am a citizen of Kentucky and the Derby is tradition. We actually do things to protect the safety of our animals. I understand that you believe that horse racing is cruel and everything but spend ten minutes at a farm and you will realize that it is nothing but cruel to them. I love PETA but this really offends me. And the Derby is supposed to be classy and this protest is anything but.
    This is one PETA protest that I refuse to stand behind.

  • 2185 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

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    I am all for animal rights and a member of PETA. However, as a citizen of Kentucky, this really pisses me off.

  • 2185 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

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    My horse is an ex-racehorse. He has problems with his shoulder. I am so thankful that he did not end up as horsemeat. I will not be supporting the horse racing industry.

  • 2186 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    Many people go to and enjoy the races because they have no idea of the cruelty involved and many don’t want to know (it might spoil their day!) but hopefully organisations like Peta will show people what really goes on and soon horse racing will be a thing of the past.

  • dia

    2186 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

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    i have family who live really close to the Sam Houston racetrack in texas, & even though they aren’t vegetarian, i’m proud to say they refuse to support such creulty.

  • 2186 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    This is so crazy, I just don’t understand why people think it is enjoyable to watch animals go through so much pain..

  • 2186 days ago

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]

    0

    This is so crazy, I just don’t understand why people think it is enjoyable to watch animals go through so much pain..

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