Remembering Ferdinand was the rally call for the National Horse Protection Coalition during Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships weekend Oct. 29-30 at Lone Star Park. The group is attempting to draw attention to the end of horse slaughter for human consumption.
Liz Ross, spokesperson for the coalition, said the phrase 'remembering Ferdinand' was an attempt to ensure that the 1987 Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) winner, who was believed to have been killed in a Japanese slaughterhouse sometime in 2002 following an unsuccessful career at stud, did not die in vain.
"A number of other animal groups have become involved with this organization following Ferdinand's death." Ross said. "But it has been the Thoroughbred industry's indignation at Ferdinand's death that ignited the issue in the equestrian world, with the American public and on Capitol Hill."
More than 50,000 horses were slaughtered in this country in 2003 and some 30,000 more were exported for slaughter abroad. There are currently three slaughterhouses operating in the United States, two in Texas and one in Illinois.
Trainer Nick Zito, National Horse Coalition spokesman, told an assembled group at Lone Star the afternoon before Breeders' Cup World Championship day, "Horse slaughter is just wrong," the trainer said. "It's like your dog, if he goes stray you do your best to find him. It is an owner's responsibility to take care of the horse after his career has ended."
In February 2003, U.S. Representative John Sweeney introduced the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act. The legislation would prohibit the slaughter of horses for human consumption and their export for slaughter elsewhere. The bill was co-sponsored by more than half of the U.S. House. A companion bill was introduced in the Senate in 2004 by veterinarian and U.S. Senator John Ensign.
The National Horse Protection Coalition is comprised of organizations and individuals from the horse industry, veterinary field, and humane community.
In addition to the National Horse Protection Coalition, six different organizations have a booth set up outside the track educating fans about horse slaughter.