BALTIMORE - Their cause fueled by the tragic death of Eight Belles in the Kentucky Derby, representatives from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals protested outside Pimlico on Saturday before the Preakness.
The protesters handed out leaflets that suggested horses in the industry are "Racing to the Grave.'' More than two dozen people participated, one of whom carried a hand-lettered sign that read, "Wanna bet another horse dies today?''
Eight Belles broke her two front ankles in the Derby and was euthanized moments after finishing second to Big Brown.
"Reforms need to be made,'' said Ashley Byrne, campaign coordinator for PETA. "People see the image of Eight Belles on the track and are horrified.''
PETA is calling on the industry to ban whipping; limit the number of races a horse runs in a year to seven; prohibit the training and racing of horses under 3 years because their bones and joints aren't fully developed; replace dirt tracks with turf and synthetic surfaces; and to institute a policy that bans illegal and legal drugs in the week leading up to a race.
Fans making their way toward the track glanced at the protest but continued walking without breaking stride. To make people aware of their cause, several of the protesters rang bells.
"Of course it gets your attention,'' 22-year-old Sergio Garivay said. "I wasn't expecting this. But I don't think horse racing is a cruel sport.''
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