NEW YORK, May 5, 2008—In the wake of the tragic death of Eight Belles at this weekend’s Kentucky Derby, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) issued the following statement today:
“The fragile nature of thoroughbred racehorses and the stress and rigors that the industry subjects on these animals is loudly evidenced in the tragic death of Eight Belles who, as we saw, was euthanized after both of her front ankles collapsed just after coming in second at the Kentucky Derby,” said ASPCA President & CEO Ed Sayres.
Continued Sayres, “The sport of horse racing is no different than other forms of entertainment where animals are forced to perform, often times in stressful and inhumane conditions. These include being raced too young before reaching physical maturity, being raced excessively, being forced to run on hard or slippery surfaces, or being injected with drugs to enhance performance.”
Almost all racing jurisdictions—New York being one exception—now allow potent anti-inflammatory analgesic drugs to be administered to injured and lame horses to keep them racing in spite of chronic and painful injuries. This ultimate abuse nearly always aggravates injuries. Often an injured leg shatters under the stress of racing, leading to horses becoming crippled and destroyed. Even less fortunate than the horses who are humanely destroyed are those who are less severely injured but forced, through the use of “legalized” drugs, to continue their racing careers.
While there is no evidence that Eight Belles was the victim of abuse, the fact remains that she was subject to compete in a sport known for its inhumane tactics. The ASPCA is opposed to any use of animals for the purpose of entertainment if it involves inhumane practices.
I grieved at the death of Eight Belles. This sport really needs reform. Hugely.