Target: President and Chief Operating Officer of the Jockey Club James L. Gagliano
Goal: End brutal speed tests of young Thoroughbred horses
Every year at two-year-old auctions for Thoroughbred horses, juvenile horses are forced into breakneck sprints to appeal to potential buyers. Most of these horses are still yearlings, physically immature and underdeveloped, and prone to catastrophic ‘breakdowns’. Demand an end to these dangerous speed tests.
Galloping at such high speeds—far faster, in fact, than these horses will run on the track—generates massive amounts of force that physically immature horses simply cannot handle. They may snap bones, burst aortas, rip muscles, or tear tendons, literally running themselves into the ground. Even worse, they cannot slow down quickly when sprinting and may continue running even when terribly injured, as in the case of a filly whose cannon bone shattered. She was left to sprint on a foot barely attached to her leg, clearly in agony but unable to stop. Others take terrible falls when their legs break or their hindquarters seize up, and may tumble for several feet before coming to a stop.
Breakdowns are not the only risk factor. Young horses are unpredictable, and may spook or bolt in fear when faced with unfamiliar tracks, throwing jockeys and potentially colliding with other horses. When frightened, they may injure themselves or other horses in an attempt to escape a perceived threat. Severe weather conditions do not always deter speed tests either. Horses may undergo tests in temperatures well over one hundred degrees, on tracks unfamiliar to them. Drugs are often used as well to mask injuries or increase performance, and many of these drugs are unapproved or unsafe cocktails.
Riders of these young and unpredictable horses are also at risk. Jockeys may be crushed or fatally injured by falling horses that go down at full speed. Even if they escape injury, young racehorses may throw their jockeys when frightened.
Speed tests are ineffective and unreliable at gauging the true abilities of young racehorses. Pushing these horses at so young an age is destroying them. The racing industry claims the lives of thousands of horses each year, but putting an end to speed tests and implementing further restrictions would reduce casualties and ensure that horses are given time to physically mature. Their bodies cannot handle the strain of the excessive speeds asked of them. Demand that this senseless endangerment and butchering of Thoroughbreds is put to an end.
Dear Jockey Club President James L. Gagliano,
The use of speed tests at two-year-old auctions for Thoroughbreds is unnecessarily dangerous and inhumane. Young horses are forced to sprint at excessive speeds though they are physically and mentally immature and undeveloped. Because their bodies are not meant to take this kind of punishment, many of these horses suffer catastrophic physical injuries. Some die instantly on the track, but others endure broken bones and suffer serious pain when they fall or are forced to run on injured legs before they can come to a stop. Severe weather conditions do not postpone tests, and horses are forced to run even when conditions are unsuitable, as in the case of a colt that died of a burst aorta when running in triple-digit weather.
Speed tests also endanger jockeys. They may be crushed under falling horses or violently thrown when their mount falls, and can suffer serious or even fatal injury.
I ask that you and the members of the Jockey Club put an end to these tests, which are unreliable predictors of racing potential and demand far too much of horses that simply cannot safely handle the strain. Restrictions must be implemented and enforced to end the needless deaths of young horses.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Commander Keane via Wikimedia Commons