‘Drugs. Breakdowns. Death.’ PETA US’ New Billboard Tells the Real Story of Horseracing
What’s the biggest tradition in thoroughbred horseracing? Not fancy hats or cocktails –it’s drugs. Whether “therapeutic” or illegal, horses are often dosed with chemicals to keep them running, a practice that results in countless tragic breakdowns on the track and the deaths of dozens of animals every week.
Visitors to America’s highest-profile race, the Kentucky Derby, this weekend will get a striking reminder of these shady behind-the-scenes practices, thanks to PETA US’ bold new billboard, which will be driven in front of the track’s entrance between now and the day of the race. The ad, which was designed by graphic design student Dana Mulranen, comes just days after trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni was banned for eight years for doping offences by the British Horseracing Authority after 11 horses from the Godolphin stable tested positive for anabolic steroids.
Using drugs for performance enhancement poses a serious risk to the health and welfare of thoroughbred racehorses. It’s cruel and unethical. Unlike human athletes who fall afoul of doping regulations, horses don’t choose to take steroids. They don’t choose to compete at all – they are forced to, victims of a multimillion-pound industry that ruthlessly exploits them, then discards them once they can longer keep running.
Retired thoroughbreds are often sold at auction, packed onto crowded trucks and shipped to abattoirs, where they are shot in the head, hoisted into the air by one leg and have their throats slit so that their flesh can be sold – with some of it even ending up being sold for human consumption.
The racing industry is built on cruelty. We’re confident that this billboard will help more people recognise that fact and then make the only compassionate decision available – to boycott horse races completely.