05/04/2008 9:49PM

PETA Outdoes Itself

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From The Associated Press:

PETA wants Eight Belles jockey suspended after filly's death

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is seeking the suspension of Eight Belles' jockey after the filly had to be euthanized following her second-place finish in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.

Gabriel Saez was riding Eight Belles when she broke both front ankles while galloping out a quarter of a mile past the wire. She was euthanized on the track.

PETA faxed a letter Sunday to Kentucky's racing authority claiming the filly was "doubtlessly injured before the finish" and asked that Saez be suspended while Eight Belles' death is investigated.

"What we really want to know, did he feel anything along the way?" PETA spokeswoman Kathy Guillermo said. "If he didn't then we can probably blame the fact that they're allowed to whip the horses mercilessly."

Eight Belles trainer Larry Jones said the filly was clearly happy when she crossed the finish line.

"I don't know how in the heck they can even come close to saying that," Jones told The Associated Press on Sunday. "She has her ears up, clearly galloping out."

Guillermo said if Saez is found at fault, the group wants the second-place prize of $400,000 won by Eight Belles to be revoked.

Saez, a 20-year-old Panama native, was riding in his first Kentucky Derby. He frequently rides for Jones.

A call to the jockeys' room at Delaware Park, where Saez raced on Sunday, went unanswered.

Eight Belles, the first filly since 1999 to run in the Derby, appeared fine until collapsing while galloping out after the finish.

The letter to the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority also sought a ban on whipping, limits on races and the age of racehorses, and a move to softer, artificial surfaces for all courses.

Tony Kelso More than 1 year ago
Two things: (1) Jazil and Rags to Riches not only share wins in the Belmont, they also share the same DAM....extrapolate what you will on their genetics and longevity as racing prospects. (2) As I recall Teufelsberg broke down during a Keeneland Polytrack race. When you consider SOFT TISSUE injuries, in addition to breakdowns, synthetic tracks aren't a cure all, by any estimation.
Brian Collins More than 1 year ago
They’re just mad at KFC – PETA ringing Eight Belles PETA spent over $30 million dollars last year drumming up support for causes ranging from the laudable plight of starving animals to the ludicrous mistreatment of Hermit Crabs. They have campaigned for tortured wool in Australia, tried to convince the world that Subaru is evil because they had a chimp in a commercial, and anthropomorphized elephants that “undoubtedly heard” death screams from miles away and are “left with lifelong emotional trauma.” However, when PETA chooses to attack a 20 year-old jockey and a sport that has given jobs and enjoyment to millions throughout the world, they have clearly lost touch with reality. I don’t like having to say “The Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands” either, but there is no reason to attack the Derby because you’re mad at KFC. There is no doubt that what happened to Eight Belles was tragic. It doesn’t need to provide paid fanatics a chance to hand out leaflets and condemn the people surrounding the event. Reports are published annually regarding the earth-shattering impact the Thoroughbred industry has on the economy and nowhere more so than Kentucky. Breeders, sales companies, pin hookers, trainers, hot walkers, grooms, feed companies, farmers, equipment manufacturers, hospitality companies, etc, are all involved with the economics of the “Sport of Kings”. Say nothing of the Trickle Down effect that accounts for the dollars spent on everything from silly hats to lawn chairs to the cute little bolts that hold the Corn Hole boards together during tailgating. According to a 2005 report commissioned by the American Horse Council: The horse industry has a total impact on the U.S. Gross Domestic product of $101.5 Billion. It provides 1.4 million Full-time equivalent jobs and reports taxes paid of $1.9 Billion. As far as racing -“although the Thoroughbred accounts for just 14 percent of the total horse population in the U.S., the breed generates 33 percent of the horse industry’s total economic impact”. If anybody at PETA bothered to walk through a shedrow or stallion barn in Kentucky, they would see that the only cruel thing is that these horses get better treatment than the 37 million U.S. citizens living below the poverty line. The words apparently, generally, allegedly, undoubtedly, and likely are PETA staples when trying to scare people into jumping on the countless bandwagons. The organization has come up with the following list of demands that are not supported by fact, reality or common sense. 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. Who will determine whether an individual’s legs are developed? Thoroughbreds all celebrate the same birthday on January 1. This arbitrary 3rd birthday they call for fails to accommodate those foals born later in a given year. Yes there is a consumer base that pushes for young development and results for returns of investment. But horses develop at their own rate, and it is up to the handlers to act accordingly. Ages mandated by people who have no direct contact with these animals is not a solution, it is another bevy of problems. 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. Sports have inherent dangers. Breakdowns happen - simple fact. If they didn’t, Football wouldn’t have commentators, Muhammad Ali wouldn’t need help lighting the torch, and Dale Earnhardt would still be racing. Horses have been running on dirt for as long as they have been on the planet. 18 horses in the field made a collective 63 starts on traditional dirt surfaces prior to the Derby. None broke down. What happened was a freak accident. Dr. Larry Bramlage is one of the most respected Veterinarians in the country; he was quoted “in my years of racing, I have never seen this happen at the end of a race or during a race.” Perhaps his opinion carries a little more weight than publicity seekers who can’t find the fun in a donkey basketball game. Tracks and horsemen across the country are pushing for synthetic surfaces. It is because technology now offers an alternative, not because PETA recommended it. Although I’m certain that tidbit will be overlooked in their next interviews with Dog Fancy and CosmoGIRL!. 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. Perhaps they should have reread this edict before posting it. They suggest limiting the number of races and point out that it doesn’t make any difference. Historically, horses have made more starts than today’s thoroughbred. Some form of empirical data might be more useful than panic-inducing guesses. 4. Ban whipping. Injured horses who are mercilessly whipped by jockeys will keep going until their legs shatter completely Climb on a 1200 pound animal going 30 miles an hour and hope for the best. Very logical suggestion. The Association of Racing Commissioners International publishes rules of racing. Prohibited use of the whip includes: -whipping a horse in certain parts of the body -excessively or brutally -when the horse is clearly out of the race -persistently even though the horse is showing no response. Whips when used properly help a horse switch leads and stay on a straight path, reducing interference and danger to other horses. To suggest that jockeys mercilessly whip horses that are injured is at best ludicrous. 5. Immediately suspend the trainer and jockey who, through excessive force and neglect, allowed this tragic death to happen. Watch the race. Eight Belles proved she belonged in that race. She bested 18 of the best 3 year old colts in the country. The Derby was her 10th race. She was first, second or third in 9 of those contests. If that doesn’t tell you that she in fact loved to run, then stick to the plight of the Hermit Crabs, because you clearly don’t know horses. She was doing what she was born, raised, and loved to do. A fate I wish for myself. PETA is a company that operates on contributions of over $28 million a year, and activist experience for paid employment merely requires “handing out veggie burgers in front of the Michael Jackson trial” (Matt Prescott – PETA Manager of Factory Farming Campaigns). 51% of the staff at PETA earn over $30,000 to spark hysteria amongst the patchouli generation. A 2006 report published by the U.S. Census Bureau states that the median income per household members of the age of 14 was $26,036. Apparently it pays to make uneducated assumptions and wave the First Amendment banner. Think about that next time you pull out the check book. Personally, I would rather donate to a prison bake sale or buy Larry Jones another hat so he doesn’t have to wear plastic when it rains. There is plenty of room on Oprah’s couch for the traumatized elephants. So please join me in boycotting PETA’s Annual Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity contest this year. Riding crops and Kentucky Fried Chicken will be provided at the demonstration. Brian Collins collinstbred@gmail.com References: www.peta.org www.jockeyclub.com www.horsecouncil.org American Racing Commissioners International Lexington Herald-Leader. Sunday May 4, 2008 U.S. Census Bureau
steven_crist More than 1 year ago
larry_thiel, Just because the posted odds changed after the race started does NOT necessarily mean there was betting after the race went off. It can take 30 to 60 seconds for money from all hubs to be assimilated into the pool. True past-posting does happen but pretty rarely.
Jeff Tatus More than 1 year ago
C... maybe I was a little too hard on the DNA of Unbridled and after further research, I have most likely inferred or somehow confused "being brittle" with the lack of longevity because many of his offspring didn't race for any length of time either. This of course validates your contention that there's more money in the breeding shed and makes my statement more shallow. For this, I apologize to Unbridled and all his DNA that is still out there. At least they let him run thru his 4 year old season and he did well... winning at Gulfstream and again finishing 2nd to Summer Squall at Keeneland. Some of Unbridled's other offspring includes: Colts/Horses: Unbridled's Song, Eddington, Anees, Unshaded, Saarland, Mustanfar, Symphony Sid, Rebridled, Malabar Gold, Unbridled Jet, Unbridled's Image, Niigon, Greed is Good, Wheelaway, Broken Vow and Pupil. Fillies/Mares: Banshee Breeze, Halfbridled, Exogenous, Santa Catarina, Surya, Lady Ballade, Happily Unbridled, Boom Town Girl, Unrestrained, Manistique and Belterra.
Mike D. More than 1 year ago
JUST AN IDEA I know this idea is way out of the box (and I know that is a cliche), but -- for the purpose of giving horses an extra year to develop before they are asked to give career efforts in the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont, how about changing the age requirement for Triple Crown eligibility from age 3 to age 4? Stronger bones in stronger bodies ... perhaps fewer fatal breakdowns ... plus we all get to see these wonderful animals race for 3 seasons instead of just two. Crazy? Anyone?
John Best More than 1 year ago
Could we card a race where we attach bikes to PETA members and prod them with electronic devices. Maybe using electronic devises would be more humane than whips. We could try both on PETA members and see what they think.
C More than 1 year ago
Jeff, I appreciate you laying out your thoughts. Just a few things: 2) I don't really understand what you're getting at on this one. Why is being a relative of Unbridled important here? 4) That can be said of many, many Belmont winners. What did Jazil do since then? 8) There's too much money to be made. Many involved in this part of the game love their horses, but they love money more. I'd hate to say it, but it's true. The horses become commodities. What happened to Barbaro made me sick... not the injury per se, but the fact that he was kept alive because of his value. My mouth hit the floor every time (and there were several of them) Gretchen Jackson talked about breeding him and what exciting prospects he would produce. While 4th graders were sending cards hoping the horse would recover and feel better, it seemed all she could ever talk about was his future plans at stud. I'm actually surprised there wasn't more public outrage over some of her comments.
MediLongshot More than 1 year ago
PETA- please! If racing is cruel as THEY say- what were they doing at the Derby? They couldn't stop people from wearing fur, or eating meat- so now they are on to us. I guess they needed another 5 minutes in the press.
Larry Thiel More than 1 year ago
The 3rd race at Penn National just had betting after the race went off. It was a 4 1/2 furlong race. There were 3 horses being evenly bet. When the 1 broke clean by two lengths out of the gate, his odds dropped to 1/2. I am glad to say he did not win. This is crime is epidemic in horse racing. And I keep seeing it. And this has to be stopped.
george quinn More than 1 year ago
Super D says I think Eight Belles breaking down is a great thing for the sport because they are still talking about the derby. In my entire 33 years following this sport, It is without a doubt the most insane comment I have ever come across. EVER! George in Lexington Ky.