On 3rd August 2023, Danehill Song, a 3-year-old horse, died after running on the opening day of Wine Country Horse Racing at the Sonoma County Fair in Santa Rosa, California, US. The horse took a bad step during a chase in the stretch and was later killed. The California Horse Racing Board listed the cause of Danehill Song’s death as musculoskeletal, which is the most common cause of death of horses in racing.
Danehill Song is the 47th horse killed during the 2023 California racing season. Of the 47 horses that died this year, 23 of the deaths were recorded as musculoskeletal injuries, which normally leads to the horses shot dead on compassionate grounds. On 4th August 2023, another horse died at the Del Mar racetrack. Five horses died at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in June and July.
The animal rights group Kill Racing Not Horses wrote on Twitter (X), “No legitimate sport would tolerate the deaths of 47 of its athletes in 32 weeks of competition in just one state”
Animal rights activists have been calling for the shutdown of Golden Gate Fields near Berkeley, the only major horse racing track in Northern California, and the owners announced in July the track would shutter permanently at the end of the season.
The issue of horse deaths in horseracing is endemic in this bloodsport in whatever region is practised, and this is why this unethical profit-making industry has become a target of protest throughout the years. Recently, in the UK, such protests have increased in frequency as the group Animal Rising decided to focus their attention on horse racing. Direct action protests invading the racetrack have taken place this year in the Grand National in England, the Scottish Grand National in Ayr, the Doncaster racecourse, and the Epsom Derby Horserace.