OMAK, Wash. -- When 10 tons of sturdy horseflesh and 17 yelping riders plunge down a 200-foot hill, as they did here Sunday afternoon, one thing's for sure: It gets your attention.
Horses and riders barrel down the steep slope, scramble across the Okanogan River and sprint to the finish line.
As its creators intended, Omak's legendary Suicide Race is difficult to ignore. But the event has drawn a brand of attention organizers would rather do without. Animal-rights activists want to see the Suicide Race shut down and its promoters charged with a crime.
The drowning deaths of two horses in practice runs a week ago have heightened objections to the event.
"I think we can make a case that this is reckless cruelty," said Mitchell Fox of the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS). Mr. Fox said an investigator from the Sacramento office of the Humane Society of the United States traveled to Omak late last week to gather information about the drownings and press for criminal charges.