HBO "Real Sports" Exposes Underbelly Of Thoroughbred Racing

Washington, D.C. --  On the heels of Eight Belles' tragic death at the 2008 Kentucky Derby, HBO is exposing an unsavory side of the Thoroughbred racing industry. The network's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" will air a segment on May 12 revealing that thousands of unsuccessful horses are sent to a brutal death in the slaughterhouse every year.

As shown in the program, horses no longer winning on the track are often sold for profit by their owners to slaughterhouse "killer-buyers." The animals are then transported to the foreign-owned plants across US borders, where they are brutally butchered and sold for human consumption in Europe and Asia. Many of the horses depicted in the HBO segment went from the track to a slaughterhouse in Mexico very quickly.

"It's disturbing that anyone would sell a horse to slaughter, but to do so the moment a young horse stops earning the owner a big check seems particularly repugnant," said Chris Heyde, deputy director of government and legal affairs with the Animal Welfare Institute. "This piece further demonstrates the clear need for passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act."

While the last three horse slaughterhouses operating on US soil were closed in 2007 under state laws, more than 100,000 American horses continue to be killed annually at plants located in Canada and Mexico. The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, introduced in the US Congress as H.R. 503 and S. 311, would prohibit the domestic slaughter of horses for human consumption abroad, as well as their export for the same purpose.

"This is a black eye that the Thoroughbred racing world just can't afford right now," Heyde said. "We hope the industry will clean up its act."

AWI encourages everyone to step up calls to their legislators and House and Senate leadership demanding a vote on the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act immediately to stop the slaughterhouses from exporting tens of thousands of American horses to Mexico and Canada.

For more information on horse slaughter and how you can help end this cruel industry once and for all please click here.


UPDATE: The updated AWI color brochure and action alert insert on horse slaughter are now available to everyone working to end horse slaughter and protect our horses. It contains background on the issue, dispels myths spread by pro-horse slaughter organizations and provides contact information on how to take action. To request copies please email with the amount you would like, name, address and phone number.

Media Contact:
Chris Heyde, (202) 446-2142

For over 57 years the Animal Welfare Institute has been the leading voice for animals across the country and on Capitol Hill to reduce the sum total of pain and fear inflicted on animals by humans. Find our more at:

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