HENDERSON, Ky (WEHT) — Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy joined together on Tuesday to call for a temporary racing suspension at Churchill Downs following the deaths of 12 horses over the last month at the track.
Over the weekend, two horses were euthanized due to injuries sustained in races. On Monday, the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority announced plans to investigate the “unusually high” number of equine fatalities. Officials with the Animal Wellness Action note the rate of loss is currently higher than the rash of deaths at Santa Anita Park in 2019, when 42 horses died on the track.
“The current rate of loss of young, healthy, physically fit horses is not even close to acceptable, and Churchill Downs acknowledges that,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action and the Center. “If the track keeps doing the same thing, it can expect the same result. The show cannot just go on, and the leadership of the track should hit the pause button for the well-being of the horses and of the industry itself.”
Animal Wellness Action says the shutdown of activities at Churchill Downs would apply only to live racing, not simulcasting of other races from tracks that have not experienced a surge in horse fatalities. The organization has also called for a ban on the use of whips in American racing, saying its use perhaps pushes horses to run too hard and puts them at risk.