In the wake of the 26th horse death since Dec. 26, 2018, at Santa Anita, more government officials are calling for the suspension of horse racing across the state.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has thrown his support behind SB 469, which calls for the suspension in order to protect the health and safety of horses and riders.
“The recent horse fatalities in California are unacceptable,” Newsom said in a statement. “We must hold the horse racing industry to account. If we can regulate horse race meets, we should have the authority to suspend licenses when animal or human welfare is at risk.”
Newsom’s administration has also taken substantive regulatory actions through the California Horse Racing Board. The CHRB has:
- Initiated special investigations into all fatalities at Santa Anita this year. Investigations are being conducted by a team of sworn CHRB investigators, an official veterinarian and a safety steward.
- Suspended authorization of 11 previously-lawful corticosteroids and anti-inflammatory medications from being present in race horses on race day at all tracks in California. This will prevent the masking-effect such medications can have in hiding a horse’s existing injuries from examining veterinarians on race day.
- Increased official veterinarian, safety steward and investigator staffing at Santa Anita.
- Proposed five regulatory packages to:
- Eliminate use of the riding crop in racing, except in cases of emergency.
- Require trainers maintain records of all veterinary medications, treatments and procedures performed on a horse in their care (for purposes of CHRB inspections).
- Make the Board’s existing Postmortem Examination Review a mandatory requirement for all trainers who have a horse die in their care. This is currently a voluntary program.
- Prohibit use of bisphosphonates, which is a class of drug that prevents loss of bone density.
- Restrict the amount of anti-inflammatory medications that may be present in a horse’s body when working out at a CHRB-licensed facility.
- A new regulation going into effect July 1 will greatly expand out-of-competition testing and provide a means for the Board to prosecute offenders who abuse prescribed medications.