PETA doesn’t want the Belmont Stakes to happen this weekend.
The organization released a statement Wednesday requesting that the June 10 event be moved as smoke from the Canadian wildfires continued to cause a haze that engulfed New York City, citing conditions that — already unsafe for humans — would only worsen with animals.
“PETA calls on the New York Racing Association and the New York State Gaming Commission to cancel all horseracing and training on Thursday and potentially this weekend due to smoke and the dangerous particulate level,” Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo said in the organization’s statement.
“If the air in New York is unsafe for humans, it will be worse for horses running at top speed. Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack, Penn National Race Course, and Delaware Park have already announced closures today.
“The safety of the horses must come before profit and tradition, even if it means postponing the Belmont Stakes.”
While there has been no decision on the event itself, the New York Racing Association canceled Thursday morning practice at Belmont and Saratoga due to the air quality, The Athletic reported.
Other teams around New York City had games postponed Wednesday, including the Yankees and Liberty, for various reasons involving the smoke and haze, which has given the five boroughs some of the worst air quality in the world and some of the worst in the city in decades.
If the Belmont Stakes — held at Belmont Park in Elmont — continues, and the race occurs given the conditions, it’d mark the latest potential controversy facing the horse racing industry.
Churchill Downs, which hosts the Kentucky Derby, suspended operations beginning Wednesday and lasting through the end of the Spring Meet schedule following a stretch where 12 horses died at the racetrack.
The races scheduled at Churchill Downs shifted to Ellis Park, and an emergency summit was called last week as the track’s conditions and protocols were reviewed and adjusted where necessary.
“What has happened at our track is deeply upsetting and absolutely unacceptable,” Bill Carstanjen, Churchill Downs Incorporated’s CEO, said in a statement Friday. “Despite our best efforts to identify a cause for the recent horse injuries, and though no issues have been linked to our racing surfaces or environment at Churchill Downs, we need to take more time to conduct a top-to-bottom review of all of the details and circumstances so that we can further strengthen our surface, safety and integrity protocols.”
Mage won the Kentucky Derby on May 6 while National Treasure — trained by Bob Baffert — claimed the Preakness Stakes title two weeks later, meaning that the Belmont Stakes won’t unfold with the chance for a Triple Crown winner to emerge.
And if PETA’s request is acknowledged, the Belmont Stakes won’t unfold at all on time.