CHRB Asks Santa Anita to Close the Meet Early in Wake of 29th Equine Death

– File photo by Terry Miller / Beacon Media News

Santa Anita officials decline

By Terry Miller

The California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) has asked Santa Anita official to finish the season two weeks early in the wake of the latest horse deaths over the weekend.

The Daily Racing Form, a leading thoroughbred racing industry journal, and The Associated Press reported Sunday that a horse sustained a fractured pelvis during a race Saturday and was later euthanized. Then, on Sunday, another collapsed and died of an apparent heart attack during a turf race, bringing the total of deaths to 29 since December 2018. A third horse was apparently euthanized last Wednesday after it suffered a broken shoulder during a routine gallop.

In a statement Sunday night, the Stronach Group, the owner of Santa Anita Park, confirmed that the track would remain open “to see these reforms through,” a reference to a series of changes the track has made since December, including new rules banning the administration of most drugs and the use of whips during races except for safety reasons. “We have great respect for Governor Newsom and the CHRB, and we look forward to working closely with them as we continue to discuss these issues,” it said.

“Since wide-sweeping reforms have been instituted at Santa Anita, catastrophic injuries have dropped considerably compared to earlier this meet, decreasing by 50% in racing and by more than 84 percent in training,” Stronach said.

“To be clear, there are no acceptable losses, and every day we work toward ending all serious injuries. But the reality is that our improvements and changes have been effective,” it said.

PETA issued the following statement on Monday:

“Either the rules aren’t strong enough or the rules aren’t being followed, but whatever the reason for the deaths of two more horses, Santa Anita needs to listen to the California Horse Racing Board and shut down. The track should not re-open until full-leg scan equipment is in place, since most pelvis injuries also show lesions in the legs; the dirt track has been replaced with a safer synthetic surface; & the district attorney’s investigation into trainers & veterinarians is complete.”

June 10, 2019

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Terry Miller

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