Bodies may not be buried at Churchill Downs, but with so many horses having
drawn their last breath there after having been run to death, it might as well be a cemetery. And
for two days it will be, when PETA erects 265 headstones outside the racetrack
Why 265, you ask? We are including 263 headstones to represent the horses who
have died on the track since last year's Kentucky Derby and whose names we know,
one headstone for the approximately 832 other horses who have died but whose
names are not known—because racetracks are so bad at reporting breakdowns and
deaths—and one headstone for the approximately 12,000 thoroughbreds who are sent off to slaughter each year.
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Churchill Downs is, of course, home to the Kentucky Derby and is where Eight Belles lost her life one year ago. Since the
Eight Belles tragedy, Churchill Downs has made some reforms in the ways that horses are treated on
its track, but banning the use of legal drugs to mask injuries hasn't been one
of them. PETA is calling on the people who run the track to ban the use of all
drugs in the week before a race. By bringing attention to the thousands of lost
lives that don't make headline news, our display will hopefully inspire
horse-racing officials to take action.
After all, by my calculations, the horse-racing industry has caused 13,095
horses to die this past year. That's enough to fill a cemetery plus some.