This Is Why I’ll Never Watch the Kentucky Derby

As a Kentucky native, when I hear someone mention the Kentucky Derby, a few things come to mind: mint juleps (for those 21+), fancy derby hats, and shame. The shame is that such a cruel industry has duped otherwise compassionate people into thinking that watching horses literally run for their lives is something to be celebrated. I need to share the following with you because the horse racing killing industry sure won’t.

The elite multibillion-dollar industry has found a way to profit from the suffering of human and nonhuman animals while making a huge profit.

Horses used for racing aren’t living their best life. They are forced to sprint—under the threat of whips and sometimes even illegal electroshock devices—at speeds so fast that they often sustain injuries and even bleed from their lungs.

Because there is so much money on the line, greedy people will do anything to make horses run faster—including pumping them full of medications and sometimes illegal drugs. Which drugs are legal varies from state to state, but Kentucky holds a reputation for being one of the most lenient.

More than 1,000 horses used for racing are injured and die every single year in North America. When they stop winning races or get injured, some are auctioned off and end up in slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico. They’re cut up, and their flesh is exported to countries such as France and Japan for human consumption, where it’s considered a delicacy.

Most horses who are sent to slaughter endure days of transport in cramped trailers to countries where horse slaughter is legal. On the trip, they have no access to water or food—and injuries are common.

Horses endure the same slaughter method as cows. Since they’re terrified, they sometimes thrash around in order to avoid being shot by the captive-bolt gun, which is supposed to make them unconscious before their throats are cut.

Even though many “unprofitable” or simply unwanted Thoroughbreds are slaughtered each year, the racing industry continues to churn out nearly 20,000 Thoroughbred foals annually.

And while 800,000 Kentuckians live below the poverty line, many are fooled into spending their savings on tickets to the Kentucky Derby and betting on horses in the hope that they might get rich quick. Most don’t realize the extent of the cruelty on and off the track.

Why does this event continue? Because humans are making a profit. But just because something is profitable doesn’t mean that it’s morally right.

How can you help?

Don’t get duped: Never attend a horse race, never make bets on such events, and don’t watch them—encourage friends and family not to, either, as long as this cruelty continues. We can’t justify animal abuse in the name of tradition or “luxury.” Horse racing is embarrassing, and it’s violent.

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