Past Kentucky Derby Competitor Among Horses Sold for Meat Internationally

The former racehorse was one of many sold to a buyer overseas

Churchill Downs
A statue of 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro sits outside Churchill Downs, home of The Kentucky Derby.
Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

A question: do you think that animal rights group PETA and the horse racing industry get along? This is not a trick question; it’s safe to say that the two often find themselves at odds relatively frequently. And yet, as of late, there’s been one issue that’s brought the two together — and it involves thoroughbreds being treated in a way that neither PETA nor the racing industry approves of. The nature of that treatment? Using them for food.

As disconcerting as it may be to many in the United States, horses are eaten in numerous countries across the globe. A 2017 article by Tim Forster at Eater explores why eating horses seems taboo in the United States but is no different from eating other types of meat elsewhere in the world.

Among the countries where horses are eaten is South Korea — and it’s there that around 400 thoroughbreds travel from the United States each year to be slaughtered and eaten. WKYT reports that among the latest batch was one horse who competed in the 2006 Kentucky Derby, Private Vow.

The Stronach Group, which owns a number of racetracks, released a statement indicating their support of “efforts by various organizations to ban the transportation or sale of horses for slaughter wherever that may occur.”

The CEO of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, Eric Hamelback, spoke about the importance of retirement and adoption programs for horses after their time racing has come to a conclusion. It’s a statement in keeping with PETA’s own call for the industry to take better care of racehorses once they’re no longer racing — an unexpected convergence, perhaps, but one that could effect real change.

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