Under current Massachusetts law, a commercial horse race track cannot be less than 1 mile long. The Great Barrington Fairgrounds (GBF) racetrack is half that, and there is no room to extend it to the one-mile requirement.
Proposed Senate Bill S101 takes away any requirement for a minimum length of racetracks, thereby eliminating fundamental safety for both horse and jockey.
In 1997 jockey Miguel Figueroa died from injuries sustained on the GBF track during the second day of races.
Freedom of information act requests made by investigative reporters to the horse racing industry documented that up to 25 race horses die per week at U.S. race tracks when training accidents and other off-track fatalities are included in the statistic. Other reporting indicates that the statistic is closer to 2000 deaths per year. In 2016, two horses were killed in just six days of racing at Suffolk Downs; in 2018 two were killed on one day – that year there were only eight days of racing.
Thoroughbred racehorses are commonly given many medications to make them run: Such drugs, although legal, can also mask pain, hide pulmonary issues or make a horse run faster. Labs cannot detect all the illegal drugs out there, of which there “could be thousands,” says the executive director of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium.
Proposed Senate bill S101 would eliminate all laws that currently exist in MA regarding use of drugs to affect speed of horses.
More than 10,000 U.S. thoroughbreds per year ship to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico, where they are exported for human consumption. Most horses sent to slaughter are 4-6 years old, whereas a domestic horse’s natural life span is 25 years or more. The USDA documented that 92.3 percent of horses sent to slaughter are in good condition and would be able to live out a productive life. The Jockey Club Online Fact Book showed in 2012 that 70 percent of annual thoroughbred foals that are born are slaughtered.
Typically, racehorses begin training at 18 months of age and racing at two years old, even though a horse’s bones and joints are not yet fully developed. Horses who are injured are usually euthanized either because the injury is so severe that they cannot be saved, or because it is not profitable for owners to pay the necessary veterinary or rehabilitation costs.
Racehorses are whipped daily in full public view. These herd animals are kept in isolated stalls for up to 23 hours per day and often show stress-induced behaviors such as self- injury, pacing, wind sucking, and rubbing fur and skin away.