BERKELEY, Calif. (KRON) — Animal rights advocates are outraged after three horses died at Golden Gate Fields horse racing track in Berkeley over Memorial Day weekend.
One horse, My Panache, died at Golden Gate Fields on Sunday due to an “accident” in the barn area, according to the California Horse Racing Board.
A second horse, Desert Fog, died at GGF after an “accident” at the gate on Monday, according to CHRB.
A third horse, Hong Kong Cowboy, suffered an injury during one of Monday’s races at GGF, said Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), a Berkeley-based animal rights network. Hong Kong Cowboy was later euthanized.
More than 30 local residents gathered outside the racetrack Wednesday and held a memorial protest to honor the horses and call for the track to be shut down.
DxE organizer Kitty Jones said, “The horse racing industry is designed to race horses to the point of injury and death to maximize profits at the animals’ expense. They list these deaths as ‘accidents’ but they are malicious and inevitable.”
Protestors held tombstones decorated with flowers that displayed the names of several horses that died at Golden Gate Fields in 2022.
Earlier this spring, more than 100 East Bay residents participated in a 5k race to protest the sport of horse racing. People, not horses, ran the 5k race.
“Humans can consent to run and risk injury. The horses do not, and when they get injured and can’t run anymore, they are killed,” said DxE organizer Paul Darwin Picklesimer.
On May 20, a horse named Honey Doo died at GGF after a “stall accident,” and a horse named Hygh I. Q. died at the racetrack on January 5 for unknown reasons, according to the California Horse Racing Board.
Golden Gate Fields is the only major thoroughbred racetrack in Northern California and describes itself as a “cultural staple in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1941.”
DxE has been calling for shutting down the racetrack for years.
The animal rights group is currently involved with a lawsuit with Golden Gate Fields. The lawsuit filed by GGF states that DxE activists “posed serious health risks to horses” when four protesters lied down on the track to stop all races from happening on March 4, 2021.
Protesters lit incendiary devices that blew purple smoke into the air and connected their arms using PVC piping to block the track, according to the lawsuit.