CHRB: Catastrophic Injuries In California Down 10 Percent In 2022; Golden Gate, Humboldt Fair Remain At Stalemate - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

CHRB: Catastrophic Injuries In California Down 10 Percent In 2022; Golden Gate, Humboldt Fair Remain At Stalemate

Santa Anita Park

The California Horse Racing Board conducted a meeting on Thursday, January 19, 2023, at Cal Expo. Chairman Gregory Ferraro chaired the meeting, joined by Vice Chair Oscar Gonzales and Commissioners Brenda Washington Davis, Thomas Hudnut, and Wendy Mitchell.

The audio of this entire Board meeting is available on the CHRB Website ( under the Webcast link. In brief:

  • Executive Director Scott Chaney (ED) reported that “in 2021, there were 71 total catastrophic injuries at California regulated facilities.  In 2022, that number was 64 for a decrease of 10 percent.  Since calendar-year 2019, total catastrophic injuries have decreased 50 percent. To put 2022 in context, of the 64, less than half, 30, were musculo-skeletal injuries, the rest being sickness, accidents, and sudden deaths.  For further context, there are approximately 30,000 runners (starts) each year in California and 70,000 workouts.  On any given day, there are approximately 4,000 horses at CHRB regulated facilities and around 8,000 to 10,000 unique horses at our facilities in any given year.  I believe California to have the best safety record in the country.  Of course, there is still work to be done, and several more regulations that the Board has passed will go into effect this year.”
  • Dr. Jeff Blea, the CHRB equine medical director (EMD), elaborated on racing safety in his report to the Board. “The Inclement Weather Policy ( found on the CHRB Website) is used when nature changes course,” he explained. “Cancelations at Santa Anita, Golden Gate Fields, Los Alamitos, and Cal Expo have occurred this month due to the heavy amount of rainfall – with safety of horses and riders paramount. Credit to track management, track maintenance superintendents and their crews, and horsemen for their diligent efforts to focus on safety during the inclement weather.” He also credited the Board for implementing the policy. “If you look back 20 years ago,” Dr. Blea continued, “you ran on mud, you ran on slop, but now, when you see those weather forecasts, the safety of horses and riders comes first.”
    After hearing the ED and EMD reports, Commissioner Davis commented, “We have really turned the corner…with everyone going in the right direction.”
  • Northern California stakeholders reported that despite continuing discussions, they remain at a stalemate over a disputed week of racing involving the Humboldt County Fair and Golden Gate Fields. The Board already has allocated dates for the rest of the northern racing calendar. A motion to deal with the impasse failed for lack of a majority (four votes required). The matter will come back to the Board at the March 16 meeting in Arcadia. (The full schedule for 2023 Board meetings is posted on the CHRB website.)
  • The Board approved changes to the retirement plan for licensed California jockeys in order to comply with new federal regulations.
  • The Board renewed the license for Sammy's in Lake Forest to continue accepting wagers as a minisatellite wagering facility.
  • The Board authorized the Executive Director to perform certain administrative actions on behalf of the Board, including approving requests by racetracks to cancel a scheduled racing program (usually due to inclement weather) and to run that program on a different, previously unscheduled day.
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