Protestors Disrupt Racing at Golden Gate

Horse Racing Radar
Valerie Mellema
Valerie Mellema is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Thursday, March 4, 2021

Four anti-racing protestors disrupted racing at Golden Gate Fields on March 4th by lying on the racetrack, interlocking their arms with PVC pipe, after climbing the fence and lighting purple flares. The maneuver is called "the sleeping dragon." The protest was live-streamed by organizers Direct Action Everywhere. 

They lied three-eighths of a mile from the finish line at approximately 11:30 a.m. PT. At 3:15 p.m. Golden Gate announcer Matt Dinerman announced that the first race was canceled and by 4:30, no races had been run but the card had not yet been officially canceled. Although police were on site, the protestors remained. 

On the Facebook live stream, Cassie King, a spokesperson for Direct Action Everywhere said that the demonstration was in response to a high number of equine deaths at the track and the "widespread COVID outbreaks among workers at the facility."

According to the California Horse Racing Board statistics, there have been five fatalities at Golden Gate this year. Four were during training and the fifth was classified as "other." Last year the track suffered 27 fatalities, nineteen of which were related to training or racing.

Protesting occurred outside of the track as well. Dozen of anti-racing protestors carried signs and shouted at passersby. One local television station filmed the protest from a helicopter.

According to a press release put out by the action group, the races were eventually canceled. The demonstrators were prepared for potential arrests. The group claims that their activists "enter farms, slaughterhouses, and other agricultural facilities to document abuses and rescue sick and injured animals."

Golden Gate has also been serving as a vaccination site for COVID-19 vaccines. The protest forced the closure of the clinic, preventing the hundreds of people who had appointments today from receiving their vaccination. 

Updated Coverage

In the first reporting of the Golden Gate protests last night, it was not clear whether or not the races were going to be able to run. Fortunately, the card was able to kick off with the second race at 7:28 p.m. PST last night - eight hours after the initially planned post time. 

The first race ran with a field of six after two scratches and was won by CAJUN BETTOR who finished first in a three-way photo finish for trainer Bill mcLean and paid $6.40. The seventh race went to the post at 10 p.m. 

Trainer Jonathan Wong reported to Horse Racing Nation that the horsemen did not receive any guidance from track officials after the first race was postponed at 2 p.m. PST.

The police were on scene, however, no arrests were made at the time. In fact, the track provided shade in the form of an event tent. 

The track issued the following statement after the first race was canceled:

"Golden Gate is a firm believer in the right to protest. However, the current actions of the protestors have forced the closure of the onsite Covid vaccination clinic, and hundreds of people have already had their vaccinations canceled. 

We respectfully suggest to the protestors that there is a better way to have this conversation and air their concerns. We welcome the opportunity to have this discussion in the appropriate format."


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