LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Kat WahBam drove from Fleming County to Keeneland, knowing the interview wouldn’t last much longer than the walk from her car to the front entrance. But that’s how strongly she feels about the abolishment of horse racing, in light of what’s transpired in the sport over the last 10 months. Since last December, 34 horses have died in racing accidents at Santa Anita in California, and nine have suffered a similar fate between the Spring and Fall meets at Keeneland.
“They are born to run free,” she said before Thursday’s 1:05 p.m. post time. “They are not born to be forced to run, and that’s what’s happening here.”
Kat estimates that she will be joined by as many as 50 protesters this Saturday, the meet’s final day, at the Man-O-War entrance on Versailles Road. “I don’t think there’s been a protest at Keeneland, so we want to end our silence, and we want to draw attention to the inherent cruelty at Keeneland and horse racing in general.”
WahBam, and her fellow protesters will have support from an organization called, “Horseracing Wrongs,” when they set up shop on Saturday. The group plans to be peaceful and will leave if Keeneland officials make that request. But they do feel as if they have a message that needs to be heard, even if it falls on deaf ears.
“Irrelevant of the money involved, it should be banned,” she said. “16 states have banned greyhound racing, dog racing, and horse racing should be next.”
And short of matching that type of action, the group will come to simply make its case. “What other sports has their athletes confined for hours at a time, who are drugging them without consent, who are forcing them to race, and killing them if something goes wrong?”
She drove all the way from Fleming County to ask those rhetorical questions. And she’ll keep doing it until finding some suitable answers.
Keeneland tells LEX 18 that they have been working to improve safety by hiring an on-site equine veterinarian and keeping a sharp eye on track conditions.
“There’s nobody that understands the complexity of the safety issue more than a veterinarian,” said Bob Elliston, the VP of racing at Keeneland of Dr. George Mundy, the on-site vet. “He has elevated our attention to this issue even more so."