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Friday, June 5, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Omak Stampede Proceeding Unchanged

By From Staff And Wire Reports

The controversial suicide race will once again be the marquee event at the Omak Stampede.

Riders had threatened a boycott because event officials, concerned about safety, planned to cut back on the number of races.

The race also is challenged annually by animal rights groups who contend it is inhumane.

In the races, held annually the second weekend of August, riders on horseback run their mounts down a steep hill and into the Okanogan River. One horse was put to death last year because of a knee injury suffered in the race.

Organizers had planned to limit the races so successful horses would only have to run twice instead of four times during the two-day event.

“We didn’t want to have as many races because we are hurting too many horses,” said Ed Thiele, the stampede vice president.

But the old rules will stand this year - horses that stay out in front will run the course four times.

“Our reasoning for caving in” was that the rodeo committee was slow to get out a letter outlining the decision to cut the number of races, Thiele said.

“We want to have a race; it’s a big part of our celebration,” he said.

“Otherwise it’s just another rodeo.”

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