No Happy Trails for Kentucky Derby Horses

The way we treat thoroughbreds is a disgrace, says Marlene Fanta Shyer
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 6, 2011 12:25 PM CDT
No Happy Trails for Kentucky Derby Horses
A tribute to the late Barbaro, winner of the 2006 Kentucky Derby, is seen on the Paddock as horses are lead back to the paddock area at Churchill Downs.   (Getty Images)

You might imagine that the horses who run in tomorrow’s Kentucky Derby live lives of "pampered luxury." But you’d be wrong, writes Marlene Fanta Shyer in the Christian Science Monitor. “The truth is often closer to years of abuse and a brutal end at a foreign slaughterhouse.” The vast majority of these horses are given Phenylbutazone, or “bute,” to help them run while injured, which can cause kidney damage, internal hemorrhaging, and other problems.

“The tragic, postinjury euthanization of Derby racers Barbaro and Eight Belles in recent years briefly called attention to the dark side of this industry. Has everyone forgotten?” And that’s nothing compared to what happens after horses can’t race anymore; most are shipped to “kill auctions” and brutal abattoir deaths. This has to stop, argues Shyer. “Kentucky has too much pride in its horses to let these majestic creatures become menu items or pet food.” (More Kentucky Derby stories.)

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