LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The Stronach Group -- owner of multiple tracks around the country, including Santa Anita and Pimlico -- joined People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in condemning the slaughter of thoroughbreds in South Korea.
“We are committed to the care and safety of thoroughbreds before, during and after their racing careers,” a statement from the Stronach Group read Friday, “which is why we have consistently supported efforts by various organizations to ban the transportation or sale of horses for slaughter wherever that may occur.”
It is a rare moment of unity between thoroughbred racing and one of its most high profile and persistent critics.
“In South Korea, eating horses is not uncommon, and so we understand that,” PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo said. “But what I think happens too often in the U.S. is that people in racing don’t ask questions. They simply assume that if somebody is going to pay to bring 400 American horses over to their country, that they’re going to take care of them. Unfortunately, that is not the case.”
According to PETA, 400 or more thoroughbreds from the U.S. are sold to South Korea each year. One horse recently slaughtered was identified as Private Vow, which ran in the 2006 Kentucky Derby. He finished 15th in a field of 20 as Barbaro emerged the winner.
PETA is now calling on the U.S. horse racing industry to take responsibility for the health of horses sold to South Korea each year.
“They don’t deserve to end up on the slaughterhouse floor in South Korea,” Guillermo said. “They deserve, if they’re going to be sold overseas to a racing industry, they have to be brought back. The racing industry really has to take responsibility.”
Churchill Downs declined to comment for this story.
Of multiple thoroughbred racing organizations in Kentucky contacted for comment, only the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (NHBPA) responded.
“The NHBPA passionately supports the development and enhancement of off-the-track-Thoroughbred retirement facilities,” NHBPA CEO Eric Hamelback said, “and adoption groups along with programs at affiliated racetracks providing for the aftercare of our horses when their racing careers are over.”