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'Eight Belles' Should Sound the End of Racetrack Betting

Just after crossing the finish line in the Kentucky Derby on May 3, 2008, a young filly named Eight Belles collapsed when both of her front ankles snapped. She was euthanized in the dirt where she lay, the latest victim of the dirty business of thoroughbred racing. 

Eight Belles' death is yet another reminder that these horses are raced when they are so young that their bones have not properly formed, and they are often raced on surfaces that are too hard for their bones—like the hard track at Churchill Downs. Eight Belles' jockey whipped her mercilessly as she came down the final stretch. This is no great surprise, since trainers, owners, and jockeys are all driven by the desire to make money, leaving the horses to suffer terribly. 

PETA is calling on the racing industry to suspend the jockey and trainer, to bar the owner from racing at the track, and, at the very least, to stop using young horses who are so susceptible to these types of horrific injuries. We're also demanding that the industry stop racing horses on hard tracks and switch to softer, synthetic surfaces, which would spare horses' bones and joints, in addition to calling for a permanent ban on the use of whips. Help PETA call for an end to cruelty masquerading as sport by using the form below to take action today.

Although Eight Belles' death, like Barbaro's before hers, made headlines, countless lesser-known horses suffer similar fates—their broken legs and battered bodies are simply hidden from public view. Most racehorses end up broken down or cast off or are sent to Europe for slaughter.

Please use the form below to join PETA in demanding that the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority institute sweeping reforms that would stop needless, preventable suffering and cruelty in the racing industry.

Send this message to:

  • Robert M. Beck Jr.

Dear [Decision Maker],

Following Eight Belles' breakdown and euthanasia at the Kentucky Derby on May 3, I urge you to immediately take the following steps to prevent such tragedies in the future.

1. Delay training and racing until after a horse's third birthday. Before reaching this age, the animals' legs are not fully developed, which increases the chances for injury.

2. Eliminate racing on dirt surfaces. Synthetic track surfaces - such as the surfaces used at Keeneland and all California race courses - are safer for horses and have led to dramatic decreases in breakdowns.

3. Limit the number of races per season. Even Triple Crown racers who have light schedules leading up the Derby break down under the strain. Horses who race on smaller tracks are often run so frequently that strains and breaks are inevitable.

4. Ban whipping. Injured horses who are mercilessly whipped by jockeys will keep going until their legs shatter completely.

5. Immediately suspend the trainer and jockey who, through excessive force and neglect, allowed this tragic death to happen.

These changes won't stop all the cruelty of horseracing - only an end to the "sport of kings" will do that - but they will stop a great deal of suffering. Please take action today.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]

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