While millions of viewers watch this year's Belmont Stakes, former champions like Charismatic and War Emblem are half a world away in Japan. Thousands of other less famous U.S.-bred thoroughbreds have also been exported overseas for breeding and racing. When they are no longer useful, most of these horses will be slaughtered.
PETA undercover investigators have recorded exclusive footage in a Japanese horse slaughterhouse in which 4,500 horses are killed and cut up each year—many of them racehorses—to be processed into food for dogs and humans. Slaughterhouses such as the Kumamoto Shokuniku Center, which was exposed by our investigators, are often the last stop in a system that routinely produces tens of thousands of "surplus" thoroughbreds each year because there is no plan for what to do with them after their racing or breeding days are over.
Ten years ago Charismatic won the 125th Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. He nearly went on to win horse racing's Triple Crown before he tragically broke his leg near the finish line at the Belmont Stakes. Unlike Barbaro, Eight Belles, and the more than 1,000 U.S. racehorses who suffer fatal breakdowns on the track every year, Charismatic survived and was sold soon after like a commodity and exported to Japan for breeding purposes.
While millions of viewers watch this year's Belmont Stakes, Charismatic—half a world away and with his value as a stallion plummeting—could be facing the same fate as fellow Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand, who was slaughtered for dog food at the end of an unsuccessful stud career in Japan.
In 2008, more than 100,000 American-bred horses were exported to Canada, Mexico, and Japan and slaughtered for meat—many of these were thoroughbreds.
For Charismatic, War Emblem, and the tens of thousands of less famous racehorses who face slaughter. While racing fans are glued to media coverage surrounding the Belmont Stakes, there is no better time to make a difference in the lives of thousands of horses. Thank you.