SCARBOROUGH — A handful of protesters stood at the Route 1 entrance of Scarborough Downs today, holding signs urging passing drivers to vote against allowing racinos in southern Maine and Washington County on Nov. 8.

The demonstrators, members of Falmouth-based Maine Friends of Animals, oppose Question 2 because allowing gambling at race tracks would support harness racing, an industry that they believe is inhumane.

Robert Fisk Jr., president and director of the animal advocacy group, said racehorses lead unpleasant and often short lives.

“The industry paints this bucolic scene where horses are frolicking in the fields,” he said. “The reality is much different.”

Fisk said racehorses often spend all but two hours of their days in a stall. He said they get whipped in the face, causing welts and bleeding, and are overbred. Once they pass their prime racing years, he said, some are taken to other countries and slaughtered.

In response to the protest, Scarborough Downs had a veterinarian on hand to refute the group’s claims.

Dr. Densie McNitt, who works with horses at the Downs, said most horses race more than just a couple of years. She pointed to 13-year-old Whitlock N, who was racing today.

“He’s the favorite, too,” she said.

McNitt said whips are used as aids, not as punishment for the horses. She said a driver’s license can be suspended for marking a horse with a whip.

She described a racehorse’s typical day as including a hot bath, brunch, a workout and a grooming.

“We should have a life like a racehorse has,” she said.

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