Mint juleps? Twin spires? Big hats? Those are hardly the images that this billboard designed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) evokes but that's what you will see if you are in Louisville, Kentucky this week.
The outspoken media experts at PETA have created an image of a horse with a hypodermic needle for a blaze running down its face.
Visitors to Churchill Downs will see a stark reminder of the dark side of horse racing as PETA's?mobile billboard is driven up and down Central Avenue and Ninth Street in front of the racetrack's entrance all day, every day, beginning on Thursday and extending through Saturday, the day of the Kentucky Derby, the organization promises.
The billboard was designed by Temple University graphic design student Dana Mulranen and bears the headline: "Drugs. Breakdowns. Death. Horse Racing Is a Bad Bet". PETA hopes the billboard will draw attention to its continuing protest against the use of both therapeutic and illegal drugs that they say the racing industry uses to keep injured horses running.
"The biggest tradition in thoroughbred racing isn't fancy hats or cocktails?it's illegal drugs that cause countless tragic breakdowns and the deaths of dozens of horses on racetracks every week," says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. "PETA's message to people who care about animals is that when it comes to horse races, don't attend 'em, don't watch 'em, and don't bet on 'em."
[VIDEOSINGLE type="youtube" keyid="wIpnoUJswnQ", width="560", height="344"]
A PETA protest in the winner's circle at the 2012 Belmont Stakes (third leg of the Triple Crown, which begins with the Kentucky Derby), caught Bob Costas off-guard. A woman was holding aloft a sign reading "Ban Horse Dopers" with the PETA logo, just out of sight in this clip.
In a touch of classic irony, the US Congress may soon be deliberating new legislation to preclude drugs from racing.?The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act would provide the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) with authority to clean up the sport and enforce anti-doping standards in races with simulcast wagering.
USADA is a non-governmental organization that is designated as the official anti-doping agency for the U.S. Olympics and works with sports leagues to strengthen clean competition policies.
U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representatives Ed Whitfield (R-Ken.) and Joe Pitts (R-Penn.) drafted the legislation, which they say would end doping in horseracing and kick cheaters out of the sport.
PETA and Congressional delegations on the same side of an issue? Don't bet on it, but remember that when it comes to horse racing, anything can happen. And probably will.
To learn more: Check out the Water, Hay, Oats Alliance web site.