HALLANDALE BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - The Pegasus World Cup drew a wide array of celebrities to South Florida. It also ignited a protest decrying the practice of horse racing.

A-listers from Vin Diesel and Nelly, to Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez, descended on Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Saturday.

“I’m here to see some horses race, bro,” said YouTube personality Jake Paul. “You know what I’m saying? I love horses.”

The event featured musical performances, other entertainment and, of course, the thoroughbred race itself.

“We’re here to have a good time. Hopefully I win something, you know what I’m saying?” said Nelly. “Like, I don’t do too lucky with the horses like that, but I just want to have a good time, and hopefully somebody’s a big winner, so we’ll see.”

“I’m just here to have some fun, watch some races, enjoy myself, enjoy this Miami life,” said Miami Heat player Kelly Olynyk.

But before the VIPs rolled in and the horses ran, demonstrators gathered outside the park at around 10 a.m.

Protesters held up signs as they railed against horse racing. They pointed to how the horses are treated in order to perform.

“These animals are confined. They spend 23 hours a day in confinement,” said organizer Holly Wilson. “They are taken out only to be trained, to be raced. They are whipped into submission.”

Wilson described the sport as animal cruelty.

“In nature, a horse will slow down after they’ve injured themselves, but here on the race track, if a horse slows down, the jockey whips a horse to go even faster, and often these horse suffer fatal injuries, broken legs, ruptured organs,” she said, “and they are being whipped as they are going down and suffering, and bleeding and dying.”

The protest was supported by an organization called Horseracing Wrongs, a nonprofit dedicated to ending horse racing. Organizers said they plan to continue protests at other races.

Gulfstream Park officials did not immediately respond to 7News’ calls for comment.

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