LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The future of horse racing is at a crossroads over the controversy surrounding the treatment of Thoroughbreds.
Animal welfare groups like PETA are calling for medication bans at tracks, and now Keeneland is also facing backlash after a horse was euthanized on the track this past Saturday.
PETA is focusing their attention on “breakdown,” or the euthanization of horses after a catastrophic fall.
It’s been talked about most noticeably in Santa Anita, where 23 horses have already been euthanized on the track since December.
“The eyes of America are on the state of Kentucky and they are certainly on the possibility of breakdown,” Kathy Guillermo, PETA’s senior vice president said.
Now, Keeneland is also under scrutiny after a horse was killed on Saturday while racing in the Madison Stakes.
Animal welfare groups like PETA are calling for major changes in the industry … including banning all medications.
“We need to return to a time before drugs were considered acceptable for racing and that is for the safety of horses we know that 90 percent of broken bones from horses occur because of a pre-existing injury so somehow horses are being medicated to cover up that injury intentionally or not intentionally,” said Guillermo.
Keeneland says the issues are more complicated than simply banning all drugs. But they are willing to do whatever is best for horses, including stricter and more unified laws surrounding the use of medications.
“Take this moment in time to advance and have an urgency to some reforms and initiatives that we have felt strongly about for years, medications is one of those and obviously that is first and foremost the thing that people are talking about right now and we support those initiatives,” Bill Thomason, President and CEO of Keeneland explained.
PETA officials say they are also looking toward Churchill Downs and the upcoming Kentucky Derby. They plan to be at a shareholders meeting later this month to question executives about track safety, but currently, they do not have any protests planned.