If actor James Cromwell has his way, every attendee at the Belmont Stakes will get a firsthand reminder of the deadly toll that thoroughbred racing takes on horses.
In a letter sent yesterday on behalf of PETA, the Oscar nominee asks Belmont Park officials to expand the June 8 racing program to include a special memorial page as a tribute to the 35 thoroughbreds who have suffered catastrophic injuries and died after training or racing at Belmont Park since the 2012 Belmont Stakes.
“As you prepare to host the third leg of the Triple Crown, I ask that you commemorate the 35 thoroughbreds whose lives ended after training or racing at Belmont Park in the year since the 2012 Belmont Stakes,” wrote Cromwell. "Horseracing is the only sport in America with a regular, predictable death toll, and New York has been heavily criticized recently for the staggering number of breakdowns and deaths on its tracks. While I understand that the New York Racing Authority has taken steps to reduce these numbers, it does not change the fact that hundreds of horses have suffered catastrophic breakdowns at Belmont in recent years—and dozens in the last year alone. When their bodies are hauled away, they seem to be considered no more than collateral damage, discarded and forgotten by the racing industry.
“Will you, amid the festivities of the Belmont Stakes day, remind racegoers that these horses were once as alive and full of energy as the thoroughbreds they will see racing on June 8? I ask that you consider paying respect to the horses who have died on the Belmont Park track in the last 12 months by printing their names on a special memorial tribute page in the June 8 racing program. It would be a small gesture and would cost you little, but it would honor those who paid the highest possible price for your industry.”