Saturday, March 24, 2007

Remember 'Ferdinand' on Derby Day!

2007 is the 21st anniversary of 'Ferdinand's' Kentucky Derby win. Ferdinand also won the Breeders Cup Classic, and was awarded 'Horse of the Year' in 1987. Ferdinand was sent to Japan to stand stud, however, he was not successful as a stallion. It was discovered in 2002, Ferdinand had been slaughtered.

It is appropriate for Ferdinand to be memorialized this year at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby day. There has never been a truly public mention of this Breeder's Cup Classic winner and 1987 Horse of the Year being slaughtered. Author Bill Heller, the winner of the 1997 Eclipse Award for Outstanding Magazine Writing on Thoroughbred Racing founded the 'Ferdinand Fee' in 2005. In an effort to help end the slaughter of horses in the United States for human consumption, the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and the New York Racing Association partnered to launch the 'Ferdinand Fee,' the voluntary fee is $2 or higher ($5, $10, $25 and other are the other categories participating horsemen choose from).

This is appropriate, however, more needs to be done to raise awareness. It is time to not only honor Ferdinand's memory and accomplishments, but to educate horse lovers and racing fans about slaughter and the legislation in Congress. No horse should be a 'poster horse' for something tragic, however, if the collective feeling of goodwill generated by them inspires others to work to ban horse slaughter then their legacies will live on in a most meaningful way. An on air tribute during the pre-race coverage of the Kentucky Derby would be appropriate. The large majority of racing fans either do not remember him, and they surely are not aware of the vile end to his life.
If the Thoroughbred industry is truly supportive of the 'American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act', then they will be sure to let all horse lovers, especially fans of Thoroughbred racing, know that this horse was slaughtered for human consumption, just like hundreds of horses every Monday through Friday in the United States.

Remembering Ferdinand could actually help the legislation.

For Ferdinand to be marketed post mortem as 'Dine on an American Champion' needs to be addressed in a proactive manner.

Ellen-Cathryn Nash
Founder & President
Manes and Tails Organization

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