The hectic winter racing season at Santa Anita finally came to an end on Sunday. Thirty horses died either from training or racing. The latest death took 3days ago. Though racing has come to a close at the park till late September, training continues till 11th July.
Quite a number of the 30 deaths occurred during training. It’s disheartening to think that horses will continue to be trained at the same place.
The number of unexplained horse deaths is large enough to justify the spotlight on Santa Anita. Nonetheless, the worrisome number of fatalities in other tracks justifies reanalyzing the whole sport.
We don’t want to have a sport similar to the one that killed 493 thoroughbreds racing in the U.S. tracks. Well, that’s a small percentage of the total 49,000 horses that raced — but this sport is not intended to kill horses. This is not like dog fighting (whose operation or even watching is prohibited in the United States)
In the past two weeks, following the death of the 28th horse, California Horse Racing Board requested the owners of Santa Anita to end racing, pending an investigation and the revealing of information regarding the necropsies of the already euthanized horses.
The owners of Santa Anita Park did not heed, claiming that they had put many working reforms into effect. Indeed, Santa Anita owners placed groundbreaking reformations upon which drugs could be used and the times of administration on trainers, when horses required to be registered for races when to use their crops to whip horses and on jockeys
The reforms didn’t save the two more horses from dying — one taking place a day after the racing board requesting the park to suspend the race and second on Saturday. If Santa Anita stopped racing two weeks before the end of the season, an addition of two horses would not have died.
Yet in the world of horse racing business, billions of dollars are getting staked on. Reforms have been put in place, and more veterinarians are on standby while groomers show good care to the horses.
When, American currency, the 30th horse, passed on Saturday during training, Santa Anita officials went ahead to expel, Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer’s its couch from the track, John Cherwa told the L.A. Times’ that the trainer “doesn’t match up to the standard of safety and accountability we require.”
That was the fourth horse of Hollendorfer’s to die in this winter racing period at Santa Anita, and he surely needed to go. In fact, he was Psychedelic at trainer, the first horse that died while training or racing at Santa Anita during this season.
The point is that with all the reforms, horses have continued to die in this park. It was not wrong to adopt the changes, but they may not have been sufficient.
The critical issue racing regulators, Californians, and Americans must confront, is, effective regulation to dramatically reduce the death toll.
December 9, 2022
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