Officials say Santa Anita is leading the country in how medication is used.
By Galen Patterson
On Sept. 27, Santa Anita opened racing for the 2019 Autumn Meet and showcased their new health standards for the horse racing industry.
“We’ve changed the sport for the better and will continue to do so,” said Aidan Butler, acting executive director for Santa Anita and Chief Strategy Director for The Stronach Group.
The new health standards consist of various animal health-oriented changes, such as veterinary supervision during training, something Santa Anita boasts is not done anywhere else. “Only at Santa Anita are horses watched during training,” said Butler.
Chief Veterinarian for The Stronach Group, Dr. Dionne Benson, says three veterinarians watch the horses every morning. “Our goal is to make sure we look at every horse before it goes on the track.
Benson says if the vet so much as does not have complete assurance of the horse’s condition, the horse will be pulled from racing.
In addition, horses now go through a race-day blood test to check for unauthorized performance enhancers.
Santa Anita is also expecting to receive a new scanning machine to do a complete evaluation on horses before they go onto the track. The machine is considered to be new, experimental technology for the industry. It was donated by The Stronach Group, built at U.C. Davis and is expected to be in operation at Santa Anita in the coming weeks.
“If we’re not taking care of our horses, we’re not doing our job,” said Butler.
In the midst of a semi-perplexing string of horse deaths, Santa Anita has responded with providing more medical treatment for the horses and has made safety of the horses a priority within the sport.
Santa Anita officials say they are leading the country in health standards and practices for the animals.
“In a short amount of time, this will be the new norm,” said Jockey Aaron Gryder.
Santa Anita also spent $5 million on upgrades to the park, including trackside dining and a new LED infield video board.