PETA still is hors­ing around

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Tom Knott

Peo­ple for the Eth­i­cal Treat­ment of An­i­mals needed all of a nanosec­ond to work it­self into a lather fol­low­ing the death of Eight Belles at the Ken­tucky Derby.

The fringe group, in a let­ter dis­patched to the Ken­tucky Horse Rac­ing Author­ity the day af­ter Eight Belles was eu­th­a­nized on the track, seeks the sus­pen­sion of jockey Gabriel Saez, a ban on whips, lim­its on races and softer track sur­faces.

That is the mis­guided nin­nies of PETA for you. They never have met a sit­u­a­tion they could not spin to pump up their re­li­gious-like cru­sade.

They can work up all kinds of tears around a con­trolled hunt de­signed to thin a deer herd. Yet those tear ducts are in­ac­tive af­ter a mo­torist slams into a spooked deer on the high­way and dies.

None of this should come as a sur­prise to any­one familiar with In­grid Newkirk, PETA’s Bri­tish­born co-founder and pres­i­dent who seeks “to­tal an­i­mal lib­er­a­tion” be­cause it is only con­ceit that al­lows hu­mans to think they are bet­ter than those crea­tures down the food chain.

Newkirk, who rou­tinely makes anti-hu­man com­ments, misses an el­e­men­tary point. As an an­i­mal, she must know an­i­mals prey on one an­other to sur­vive. It is the law of the jun­gle, al­though we hu­mans like to pre­tend oth­er­wise.

Newkirk and her con­gre­ga­tion are hor­ri­fied by the horse rac­ing in­dus­try, whose peck­ing or­der might sur­prise those on the out­side. A thor­ough­bred with im­pec­ca­ble blood­lines leads a far more pam­pered ex­is­tence than many train­ers and jock­eys.

I worked on a thor­ough­bred farm in my youth and came to know a horse-ob­sessed sub­cul­ture that might have pleased PETA. No ex­pense was spared with the horses, fussed over each day by at­ten­dants and train­ers. Theirs was a pretty good life that fea­tured a state-of-the art stable with air con­di­tion­ing.

Con­sider the life of a horse jockey, fraught as it is with peril both on and off the track.

Most jock­eys fight one con­stant en­emy: weight.

And they wage the fight with dra­co­nian mea­sures: diet pills, rub­ber suits, hot boxes and re­gur­gi­ta­tion.

The Ken­tucky Derby rid­ers were al­lowed to weigh what is an al­most un­seemly 126 pounds, con­sid­er­ing weight as­sign­ments can be as low as 110 in other venues.

You won’t hear PETA ex­press one con­cern about the long-term health is­sues be­fore jock­eys. Or about the in­ept Jock­eys’ Guild, the fi­nan­cially strapped la­bor union whose mis­sion is to look out for the best in­ter­ests of its 1,300 li­censed rid­ers in the United States.

What you hear from PETA is a whole lot of rad­i­cal blather that is es­pe­cially in­sult­ing to those rural Amer­i­cans who still de­rive much of their sus­te­nance from our streams and forests.

Many of th­ese Amer­i­cans hunt and fish be­cause of fi­nan­cial ne­ces­sity. Many do not have ac­cess to the pre­ten­tious gro­cery chains that dec­o­rate our ur­ban jun­gles.

Not that this would bother Newkirk and her cult.

As Newkirk once said: “Hu­mans have grown like a can­cer. We’re the big­gest blight on the face of the earth.”

And per­haps we are. And per­haps Newkirk could do her it­ty­bitty part by turn­ing over her small piece of space on this planet to a pre­cious cock­roach or rat.

Of course, PETA wants the oblig­a­tory in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the death of Eight Belles and won­ders whether the jockey felt the filly in stress dur­ing the course of the race. If the jockey felt noth­ing un­usual, a PETA spokes­woman said, “then we can prob­a­bly blame the fact that they’re al­lowed to whip the horses mer­ci­lessly.”

In the mixed-up world view of PETA, ei­ther the jockey or the in­dus­try is at fault.

Eight Belles trainer Larry Jones has de­fended the jockey and dis­missed the self-serv­ing claims of PETA.

He noted that Eight Belles looked in fine shape af­ter cross­ing the fin­ish line.

Soon enough, the filly dropped to the track af­ter break­ing both front an­kles.

And right on cue, PETA saw an op­por­tu­nity to ex­ploit an un­for­tu­nate in­ci­dent.


Ve­teri­nar­i­ans eu­th­a­nized Eight Belles mo­ments af­ter she frac­tured two an­kles in the Ken­tucky Derby.

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