Trainer Dan Blacker, who has been charged by the California Horse Racing Board with failing to comply with regulations that require that a horse undergoes a veterinary exam within 72 hours of a workout and that the work is entered into a CHRB database, has issued a statement in which he said he takes “full responsibility” for not following the rules.
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 workouts by the filly prior to the July 1 work. The 2-year-old suffered a fatal musculoskeletal injury to her pelvis and vertebrae.
“During a horse-fatality investigation for the horse Animae,” the CHRB complaint read, “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. 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.”
Blacker wrote that Animae is the only horse under his care to suffer a fatal injury. He has been training since 2011.
After a further investigation, the CHRB discovered that from Jan. 1, 2002, 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.
On Saturday, Blacker posted a statement to his X account, writing that he had always been careful to make sure his horses were properly examined before working out.
“I want to make it clear that I am in contact with my veterinary team daily,” he 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.”
He wrote that after Animae broke down, he learned that his pre-work procedures did not comply with CHRB rules.
“Subsequently, I learned that our long-established procedures, while complying with Santa Anita workout rules were not always in line with the California Horse Racing Board rule regarding pre-workout inspection and reporting,” he wrote. “As soon as I was made aware, we immediately began to operate in compliance with the rule.”
Despite implying that he thought he was doing everything by the book, Blacker admitted that he now understands that he may have been in violation of CHRB rules.
“I take full responsibility for this matter and the consequences it will bring forth,” he said in the statement. “I stand firm in saying that all the horses in my program have always received the highest level of care.”
CHRB spokesman Mike Marten told the Paulick Report that the regulators have filed 18 complaints regarding workout and pre-race veterinary checks since the rule went into effect. According to Paulick, stewards have primarily opted to fine violators of the rule, with amounts ranging from $100 up to $1,000 for multiple violations.
Blacker, 41, has 120 career wins from 840 starters. His biggest win came in the 2021 GI Kilroe Mile S. with Hit The Road (More Than Ready).
According to the Daily Racing Form, a hearing into the Blacker matter was originally scheduled for Oct. 13 but has been postponed.