The Stronach Group, the Thoroughbred Owners of California and California Thoroughbred Trainers have released a joint statement in the wake of the request from the California Horse Racing Board that Santa Anita suspend the final seven days of the meet.
The request came following the breakdown of Formal Dude (First Dude), who was euthanized following the running of Saturday's first race. The track suffered a subsequent fatality, the 29th of the meeting, was the three-year-old filly Truffalino (English Channel) died of a heart attack in the third race Sunday.
“We are collectively working on behalf of everyone in the sport–grooms, hot walkers, jockeys, exercise riders, starters, trainers, owners, track managers and every horse wearing a bridle and a saddle–to reform and improve racing every day. After extensive consultation among all partners, Santa Anita Park will stay open through the end of its meet to see these reforms through.
Since wide-sweeping reforms have been instituted at Santa Anita, catastrophic injuries have dropped considerably compared to earlier this meet, decreasing by 50 percent in racing and by more than 84 percent in training. To be clear, there are no acceptable losses, and every day we work toward ending all serious injuries. But the reality is that our improvements and changes have been effective.
A detailed and serious epidemiological investigation of all track accidents is underway and will continue with the greatest urgency. Track management, owners, trainers and veterinarians, are re-doubling their vigilance and close supervision of both training and racing protocols and will consider all enhancements to the sweeping new protocols already introduced. We have great respect for Governor Newsom and the CHRB, and we look forward to working closely with them as we continue to discuss these issues.”
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released a statement of its own Sunday. “Either the rules aren't strong enough or the rules aren't being followed, but whatever the reason for the deaths of two more horses, Santa Anita needs to listen to the California Horse Racing Board and shut down,” said Kathy Guillermo, PETA's senior vice president, in a statement.
“It should not re-open until full-leg scan equipment is in place, since most pelvis injuries also show lesions in the legs, the dirt track has been replaced with a safer synthetic surface; and the district attorney's investigation into trainers and veterinarians is complete,” she said.