The California Horse Racing Board is scheduling a special meeting on Friday regarding several horse racing deaths at Los Alamitos racetrack. This year, 19 horses died while racing at Los Alamitos. Another 10 have died of gastrointestinal issues or other illnesses.
Los Alamitos remains open though the coronavirus pandemic and has been the only race track that has remained open since the outbreak began.
Multiple racetracks in California have come under scrutiny over the deaths of horses. At least 50 horses have died while racing or training at Santa Anita since December of 2018, including 15 this season.
A state investigation released in March found no evidence that illegal medication or procedures contributed to the deaths of the 23 horses who died at Santa Anita between December 30ember 30, 2018, and March 31, 2019. In June of 2019, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill giving the CHRB the authority to halt racing at Santa Anita if it so chooses.
The California Horse Racing Board passed a new whipping law, which would restrict jockey’s whipping horses six times or less during a race.
The California Horse Racing Board will hold a special meeting on the horses that have died at Los Alamitos racetrack. According to CHRB statistics on its website, 19 horses have died from racing or training at the Orange County track in 2020, including eight since May 26.
CHRB meetings often prove contentious over the last few years. Sometimes it is among industry stakeholders but often involving anti-racing attendees, who have talked about their grievances about the sport.
Since a rash of breakdowns at Santa Anita in early 2019, many have urged commissioners to deny racing licenses or shut down racing in the state.
The CHRB has implemented several regulations to improve equine safety, which along with house rules established by racetracks and the efforts of horseman and practicing veterinarians, have been attributed to decreases in equine fatalities in the state.
Last year, the CHRB also organized a panel that evaluated horses before their scheduled races. The goal was t0 seek and identify at-risk horses who warranted increased scrutiny. However, this was only in place for the major Thoroughbred tracks.
Overall, the meeting will take into consideration how to protect the horses from fatalities, which could suspend Los Alamitos horse racing in the meantime. The goal is to ensure that horses are safe before, during, and after their race, as the death of horses has been concerning over the last few years.
Can the Whipping Law Help?
Last month, the California Horse Racing Board passed a rule, which would change whipping rules in the Empire State. The CHRB is restricting whipping rules to only six whips per race, and jockey cannot whip a horse more than two times in a row.
The CHRB approved of the rule hoping that will protect horses from long term injuries during a race. Although whipping horses during a race might now have a direct correlation to the deaths. This is a step in the right direction to protect racehorses in California.
The number of deaths they have seen is staggering and concerning moving forward if they are not addressed. This could help the issue a bit in the future, but more still needs to be done to make sure horses are healthy during their racing career.