The Santa Anita stewards on Sunday issued trainer Dan Blacker a 90-day suspension and a $15,000 fine for 527 separate incidents of failing to undertake the necessary pre-workout veterinary examination reporting process for horses in his care.
The three-month suspension is scheduled to run from Feb. 26, 2024, to May 25, 2024. During that time, Blacker will be denied access to all licensed premises in California.
Last October, the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) charged Blacker with failing to comply with regulations requiring that a horse undergoes a veterinary exam within 72 hours of a workout and that the work is entered into a CHRB database. The 527 incidents occurred over a period of a year and a half.
In a statement last October, Blacker took “full responsibility” for the rules violations.
The issue came to light when an unraced Blacker-trainee named Animae (Speightstown) suffered a fatal injury after a July 1 workout at Santa Anita.
The CHRB investigated and found that no pre-workout report on Animae had been filed within three days of the work and that veterinary reports were also not filed for two of three of the filly's workouts prior to the July 1 work.
“During a horse-fatality investigation for the horse Animae, it was found the horse did not have an examination by his attending veterinarian entered into EquiTAPS database during the 72 hours immediately preceding an official workout,” the CHRB complaint read. “Three out of the four official workouts listed for Animae did not have a veterinarian exam listed, including the official workout when the horse suffered the fatality.”
As part of a subsequent broader investigation, the CHRB discovered that from Jan. 1, 2022–when the rule requiring horses to undergo a vet's inspection prior to a workout went into effect–to July 1, 2023, Blacker-trained horses worked 789 times, but veterinary reports were not filed for 527 of those workouts.
In his October statement posted on social media, Blacker wrote that he had always been careful to make sure his horses were properly examined before working.
“I want to make it clear that I am in contact with my veterinary team daily,” Blacker wrote. “We jog up every horse, every day before they go to the track. The horses in training are thoroughly evaluated by myself, my team and my veterinarian on a daily basis.”