Bay Area animal activists call for Golden Gate Fields to shut down after horse deaths

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Saturday, June 3, 2023
Calls to shut down Golden Gate Fields after horse deaths
Bay Area animal activists call for Golden Gate Fields to shut down after eight race horse died this year.

ALBANY, Calif. (KGO) -- At Churchill Downs in Kentucky, the horse racing season has come to an abrupt halt. After the death of a dozen animals over the past month, the famous home of the Kentucky Derby has suspended all racing as it re-examines safety measures.

MORE: 8th horse dies at Churchill downs, home of Kentucky Derby

Now here in the Bay Area, local activists are calling for the same to happen at Golden Gate Fields.

"I'm surprised that so little has been done," said Cassie King.

King works with an activist group called Direct Action Everywhere. She believes banning racing is the best way to stop deaths.

"That's just inherent to the industry. These horses are bred for racing, they're fed for racing, they're drugged for racing. Everything about the way that they're raised is for profit, not for their well-being," King said.

King says 28 racing horses have died this year in California. Eight of those have been at Golden Gate Fields - which didn't answer our request for comment.

MORE: Horse deaths cast shadow as Triple Crown shifts to Preakness

Seven horses have died at the track since April 27, including Derby entrant Wild On Ice. Freezing Point and Chloe's Dream were euthanized after injuries before Saturday's Kentucky Derby that was ultimately won by Mage. Five sustained catastrophic leg injuries, while two succumbed suddenly from causes yet to be determined.

"It makes me wonder well what number of horse deaths is acceptable?" she asked.

The California Horse Racing Board says the state has some of the most stringent and effective regulations in the country.

They also point out that many horse deaths are because of illness.

In a statement sent to ABC7 News, they said in part:

"...The California horse-racing industry has implemented more than 50 safety measures to protect horses and riders. These efforts have led to a 55% reduction in equine fatalities since 2019."

MORE: 36 racehorses forced to leave Golden Gate Fields following 30th horse death in Santa Anita

But that doesn't go far enough for Samantha Faye. Faye is a Bay Area horse advocate who thinks even one death is too many.

"When you say that deaths are decreasing, that the rate of deaths are decreasing and yet public outrage is increasing with the deaths, then you are most certainly on the wrong side of history," she said.

Activists like Faye and King would like to see places like Golden Gate Fields shut down for good.

They hope continued public pressure will ultimately help them achieve their goal.

"Public scrutiny and negative attention can create change and we have a lot of that in California as well," King said.

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