Following deaths of 21 horses, California racetrack imposes new safety, welfare rules



ARCADIA, Calif. — Santa Anita will reopen its primary filth monitor for restricted coaching Monday almost every week after the historic racetrack was closed to coaching and racing within the wake of 21 horses dying since Dec. 26.

Horses can solely jog or gallop on the filth; no timed exercises can be allowed.

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“This monitor is in excellent situation and it’s prepared for coaching,” veteran monitor superintendent Dennis Moore mentioned Saturday.

The racetrack stays closed indefinitely for racing.

Moore, together with Mick Peterson of the College of Kentucky’s Agricultural Equine Program, has spent the previous few days visually inspecting the one-mile oval, in addition to analyzing soil samples and take a look at knowledge.

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“It’s been very useful that we now have not had any important rain since this previous Wednesday,” Moore mentioned.

That’s allowed the filth to be roto-tilled and aerated repeatedly in an effort to get a uniform consistency on the monitor’s high cushion, which is six inches deep.

Peterson has accomplished testing that simulates the pressure and pace generated by the main leg of a thoroughbred operating at full pace. He’s gathered knowledge that reveals firmness, cushioning, grip and consistency from places across the oval.

“It clearly signifies our cushion is true the place it must be,” Moore mentioned.

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Santa Anita introduced new guidelines to scrutinize horses coaching on its racetrack and add a director of equine welfare in an effort to mitigate the collection of catastrophic breakdowns.

The inside coaching monitor, which has not had any breakdowns, was open for horses to jog and gallop solely on Saturday.

It was alleged to be an enormous day of racing Saturday on the historic monitor. However the San Felipe Stakes for Three-year-old Kentucky Derby hopefuls and the Santa Anita Handicap for older horses had been scuttled when the monitor was closed on Tuesday.

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Tim Ritvo, chief working officer of The Stronach Group, mentioned the brand new security and welfare measures will take impact when racing resumes within the coming weeks.

“What they’re attempting to do is the suitable factor,” mentioned Jim Cassidy, president of the California Thoroughbred Trainers.

“Simply be sure that all people is accountable for his or her actions.”

The brand new guidelines introduced by Santa Anita’s proprietor TSG embrace requiring trainers to use to carry timed exercises for his or her horses a minimum of 24 hours upfront. Officers consider that can give monitor veterinarians time to determine potential at-risk horses by way of their previous performances, exercise date and bodily inspection.

Cassidy misplaced a filly from his 40-horse secure after she was fatally injured on the turf course through the meet that started on Dec. 26. He mentioned she broke her hind leg round a flip.

“I’m positive she took a foul step,” he mentioned. “She by no means actually had accidents in any respect.”

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TSG says it has employed additional vets to look at all horses coming into and exiting the filth and turf course throughout morning coaching hours.

The morning coaching schedule will change, too.

The primary 15 minutes of coaching after the filth monitor opens, and every time its floor is renovated, can be reserved for horses finishing official timed exercises. Officers say it would cut back the variety of horses on the monitor on the similar time and create a safer setting.

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TSG plans to rent an accredited vet as the brand new director of equine welfare. That individual will lead a fast response staff for accidents and conduct clear investigations into the damage whereas speaking the findings to the racing and basic public.

Santa Anita would require veterinary information of a horse to comply with that animal by way of any possession or coach change. An identical rule is in impact at Florida’s Gulfstream Park, which can be owned by TSG.

“This has labored very nicely at Gulfstream Park,” Ritvo mentioned. “There was some pushback from the trainers at first, however that is one of the best factor for the horse.”

Cassidy sees no downside with maintaining a horse and its vet information collectively.

“Most of those horses keep in the identical arms,” he mentioned.

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Ritvo mentioned TSG will spend money on any new know-how or tools that can assist uncover pre-existing accidents in horses.

Cassidy mentioned any time a horse has a problem, trainers usually use X-rays, MRIs and nuclear scans to discover a trigger, in addition to having their very own vets and monitor vets take a look at the animals.

Jockeys additionally share details about horses they train within the mornings or experience within the afternoons.

“These horses change from daily to day. We take a look at them each single day,” Cassidy mentioned. “You’re all the time going to have accidents.”

Cassidy described the temper round Santa Anita’s secure space as “very sombre.”

“We are going to press on,” he mentioned, “and hopefully all of those new adjustments will make a distinction.”


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