The Humane Society of the United States urges the horse racing industry to embrace protective measures for horse safety

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 26, 2024)— As racing commences at Churchill Downs ahead of the 150th Kentucky Derby, the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund call for change to address the devastating loss of horse life at each of the Triple Crown races last year and racing in general. The dark underbelly of the horse racing industry gets a harsh light shone on it, and the systemic exploitation of horses, in the documentary "Broken Horses"—a distressing story of greed and blatant disregard for equine lives—all issues HSUS has battled for decades. Given such practices, the fatal outcomes in racing are tragically predictable.

“Accepting horse deaths as just part of racing is not only morally bankrupt but also a business model doomed to fail,” states Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “We demand a seismic shift in industry practices – the racing industry must embrace stringent protective measures for horse safety and welfare or face inevitable obsolescence.”

“The public has no appetite for watching horses collapse and die in horrific scenes while spectators look on in shock and horror. This is akin to a gruesome spectacle from a bygone era. We are no longer in the 19th century, and no one should gather to watch animals suffer and die for entertainment,” says Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.

This year’s Kentucky Derby will occur, for the first time, under the uniform federal anti-doping regulations of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA). Recognizing the critical importance of HISA, HSUS has worked for decades advocating alongside forward-thinking industry leaders for strong anti-doping regulations and a uniform national standard and authority for horse racing safety. Yet horse deaths in racing continue to occur - a harsh reminder that the fight to ensure horse safety and welfare in racing is far from over.

The Humane Society family of organizations urges both HISA and racetracks to take immediate, robust actions to suspend races at any sign of risk to horse and jockey safety and establish meaningful penalties for horse deaths. Only through such uncompromising measures can horse racing transform itself into an industry that truly cherishes and values the horses at the heart of it, rather than exploiting them for profit.