By Terry Miller
Heightened concern for the welfare and safety of race horses in California led to unprecedented reforms to ensure best practices at the famed race track. The California Horse Racing Board, the Stronach Group (owners of Santa Anita), California Thoroughbred Trainers, and Thoroughbred Owners of California, have all agreed on new protocols that set the highest horse safety standards of any track in the U.S., which were enhanced still further following a recent statement by Governor Newsom.
Last Thursday proximately 500 workers held signs in support of the track.
“We support the implementation of these best practices to strengthen protections for the horses we love and that are under our care. These reforms at Santa Anita will establish a new standard for the humane treatment of race horses and we have already seen a positive impact. We welcome them to protect our horses, our industry, our jobs and our lives,” stated trainer Kim Marrs.
Since opening in 1934, Santa Anita has provided hundreds of thousands of jobs to Californians who love their professions as grooms, stable attendants, watchmen, hot walkers, exercise riders, jockeys, assistant trainers and trainers. These “back stretch” workers are the invisible foundation of an industry that seeks to continue as an American institution that provides opportunities for so many employees to support their families.
“My father taught me how to care for horses and today I have my son working with me continuing a proud family tradition. I have been able to support my son, who is a student at CSU, Long Beach. I have realized the American dream through my 35 years of employment at Santa Anita Race Track. People need to understand that there is a human cost to shutting us down,” stated Dagoberto Lopez.
“You can’t work here if you don’t love horses. Our day starts at 4 a.m. and in many cases we take care of our horses better than some parents do their children. We embrace the agreed upon changes,” stated press conference organizer Oscar de la Torre.