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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


Edited Press Release — Reps. McGarvey and D’Esposito—who represent the districts that are home to the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes, respectively—sent the letter to the attorney general in response to a February 15 Washington Post article “The Feds’ Raid on a ‘Bush Track’ Fizzled, so Horses Kept Racing—and Dying,” in which it was reported that federal officials from multiple agencies abandoned a planned raid of a bush track in Georgia.

The Washington Post article highlighted a PETA undercover investigation that revealed rampant doping of horses, including injections of cocaine, methamphetamine, and methylphenidate (Ritalin); the use of electric shock devices on horses; the relentless whipping of horses by the jockeys; and gruesome and fatal injuries to horses and jockeys.

“None of this would be tolerated at sanctioned tracks, and, if this illicit industry is allowed to thrive, it will have a negative impact on legitimate racing, both reputationally and in merit,” Reps. McGarvey and D’Esposito write. “We request that the Department of Justice resume their investigation and take action against these illegal bush track racing facilities.”  

“It’s vital to uphold the integrity of horse racing for the safety and preservation of the sport,” says Rep. McGarvey. “That means holding bad actors accountable and ensuring unsanctioned horse tracks that threaten the wellbeing of horses and jockeys can’t operate.”

“Preventing bad actors from harming horses at illegal racetracks is crucial to both protecting innocent animals and safeguarding the sport of horse racing at large,” says Rep. D’Esposito. “I am calling on the leaders of all relevant federal agencies to utilize every tool at their disposal to apprehend, prosecute, and bring to justice criminals who mistreat racehorses for their own selfish gain.”

“Cruelty should never be a spectator sport. We thank Reps. McGarvey and D’Esposito for their courageous stand against the cruelty and corruption on display at bush tracks,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “We hope U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland will take swift action and put an end to bush tracks.”

Today, PETA applauds the efforts of U.S. Reps. Morgan McGarvey (D-Ky.) and Anthony D’Esposito (R-N.Y.) for their joint letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland urging the Department of Justice to renew an investigation into unsanctioned horse racing, commonly known as “bush tracks.”

PETA points out that Every Animal Is Someone and offers free Empathy Kits for people who need a lesson in kindness. For more information, please visit or follow the group on XFacebook, or Instagram.

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