Feinstein Renews Call for Racing Suspension at Santa Anita

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Senator Dianne Feinstein | Getty Images

Saying that horse racing “failed a critical test” during this past weekend’s Breeders’ Cup meeting at Santa Anita, United States Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) issued a statement late Monday afternoon, renewing her call for the suspension of racing in her state. The statement was precipitated by the catastrophic injury suffered by Mongolian Groom (Hightail) in the closing stages of Saturday’s GI Breeders’ Cup Classic.

This past June, Feinstein said in a statement that racing needed “to take a long, hard look at [its] future in this country and we need to do It before more horses needlessly die.” On Oct. 31, Feinstein said that the weekend ahead represented “a critical test for the future of horse racing in California and the United States.”

Her Monday statement reads as follows:

“It breaks my heart to hear that another horse died because of injuries sustained during the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita Racetrack. This year, 37 horses have died at Santa Anita, seven of those since racing resumed in September. That’s simply unacceptable.

“This problem is not unique to Santa Anita. More than 3,000 horses have died at California racetracks in the past two decades, and thousands more at racetracks throughout the country. Unfortunately, most states lack sufficient reporting requirements, so we may never know the exact numbers of horses that die nationwide as part of the horse racing industry. This is a gap that should be closed.

“Before the Breeders’ Cup, I wrote to the California Horse Racing Board that this weekend would be a critical test for the future of horse racing. Despite increased scrutiny and additional measures that have been put in place, the horse racing industry was unable to make it through a single weekend without a critical injury and euthanized horse.

“In the past, I’ve called for horse racing to be suspended at Santa Anita until it could ensure the safety of horses would be protected. With continued racetrack deaths, it’s clear that not enough has changed, so I renew that call.

“I will work with Governor [Gavin] Newsom to look at all options to protect racehorses and increase transparency at racetracks. If the horse racing industry is unwilling to treat these magnificent creatures humanely, it has no business operating in the United States.”

On Sept. 23, Newsom told the New York Times in an interview that, “What happened last year was unacceptable, and all of the excuses be damned. We own that going into the next season, and we’re going to have to do something about it. I’ll tell you, talk about a sport whose time is up unless they reform. That’s horse racing. Incredible abuses to these precious animals and the willingness to just to spit these animals out and literally take their lives is a disgrace.”

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