Anti-slaughter rally planned for Breeders’ Cup week
Posted: 10/6/2004 3:29:00 PM

On October 30, Vivian Farrell knows the eyes of the horse racing world will turn toward Lone Star Park to witness the 21st running of the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. As president of the Texas-based organization The Fund for Horses, she wants to make sure the eight-race program is not the only thing leaving a lasting impression on this large audience.Members of The Fund for Horses hope to use Thoroughbred racing’s signature event to keep the issue of horse slaughter in the public consciousness and have planned an anti-slaughter rally at the Grand Prairie, Texas, track as well as follow-up activities.

Farrell initially hoped to hold the rally on Breeders’ Cup day, but the organization is considering moving the gathering to earlier in the week to avoid complicating already stringent security or detracting from the magnitude of the event. If the rally is rescheduled for earlier in the week, members might hand out leaflets to patrons leaving the track after the Breeders’ Cup races.

"We’re not trying to disturb the event and we’re certainly not against the Breeders’ Cup," Farrell said. "We just want to raise public awareness about slaughter in this country;, that’s our only goal. It’s very hard to reach the masses, and the Breeders’ Cup will give us a national and international platform. We want to get the public to notice what is going on and we want to send a message to the European people watching that horse slaughter is not something we want for our horses."

Farrell said she has spoken with leaders of six other organizations who have indicated an interest in participating in the rally. The Fund for Horses Web site also urges animal protection advocates to hand out leaflets protesting slaughter at other racetracks.

Texas is home to two of only three plants in the United States that slaughter horses for human consumption, mostly for Europeans—the Dallas Crown Inc. plant located in Kaufman and BeltexCorp. in Fort Worth—and both are owned by European interests. The fact that the Breeders’ Cup is taking place within a state that still allows equine slaughter for human consumption played a key role in the decision to hold the rally this year.

"It was definitely a huge factor," Farrell said. "One plant is 13 miles away [from the track] and the other is 17 miles away. These races are being held just miles away from where horses are slaughtered."

Eugene Joyce, Lone Star assistant general manager, said track officials are working with Farrell on how best to develop the rally as well as giving her group access to the media the week of the Breeders’ Cup.

"We certainly think it’s a worthy cause and we’re willing to help; we just haven’t worked out the details yet," Joyce said. "To tell the truth, the day itself, their message would get swallowed up, so it might be better for them to get it out 4-5 days prior to the Breeders’ Cup where they would have a better shot of being more than just a blip on the radar."—Alicia Wincze