CHRB Issues Report On 2018-19 Santa Anita Fatalities - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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CHRB Issues Report On 2018-19 Santa Anita Fatalities

Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.

The California Horse Racing Board has issued its report on the 23 fatalities that occurred during the Santa Anita race meet between Dec. 26, 2018 and March 31, 2019. The report was compiled by veterinarians and scientists, CHRB investigators, safety stewards and CHRB staff.

The report examined in depth each of the fatalities, published key findings and recommendations in various areas, including track maintenance; management of the racing office; training practices; private veterinary practitioners and practices; horse safety and welfare; regulatory veterinary procedures and practices; and at the CHRB level.

No illegal medications or procedures were uncovered, mirroring an independent report of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, which found no criminal wrongdoing.

The report found that 21 of the 22 catastrophic  musculoskeletal injuries examined in post-mortem necropsies were in horses showing evidence of pre-existing pathology “presumed to be associated with high exercise intensity, which predisposed these horses to catastrophic injury.”

The report also found that no trainers interviewed specifically blamed the condition of the racetrack, although data suggested that 39% of the fatalities occurred on surfaces affected by wet weather.

As a result of the investigation, seven complaints will be filed by the CHRB alleging violation of Rule 1842, Veterinarian Report, for failing to turn in daily reports; and three complaints will be filed alleging violations of Rule 1894, Duties of a Trainer, and/or Rule 1489(a)(4), Grounds for Denial or Refusal of License, for training without the proper license.

Read the full CHRB report, including key findings and recommendations

The Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita, issued the following statement on the CHRB report.
“The California Thoroughbred racing industry and The Stronach Group have, over the last year, implemented unprecedented and effective reforms. This effort, led by Governor Newsom and the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB), is well documented in the recent report issued by the CHRB. We look forward to a full review of that report and to working with the Governor, the CHRB and the California legislature to continue the progress made to date. There has been a 64 percent reduction in catastrophic injuries at Santa Anita Park this year, and we have not had a single fatality during racing on our main track for the entirety of this season.  While the first number represents a positive development, the second number is always the goal.  We welcome the opportunity to work together with our industry partners to implement the suggested reforms and to make 2020 a year we can all be proud of.”

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released the following statement:
“The California Horse Racing Board's investigation into the horse deaths at Santa Anita Park makes it clear that more transparency is desperately needed in the sport.

“I agree with the report's findings that the use of dangerous drugs, like Lasix, should be banned. Allowing the use of drugs to mask a horse's illness and push them beyond their physical limits too often results in a catastrophic injury requiring the horse to be euthanized. If a horse requires drugs to run, then it's too sick to race.

“This report comes on the heels of 27 people being indicted by the Southern District of New York for an illegal doping scheme that included the trainer of Maximum Security, the 2019 Kentucky Derby's initial winner who was later disqualified.

“If the last year has taught us anything, it's that we can no longer ignore the problems associated with horse racing. We must take action, including passing the Horseracing Integrity Act, if we're going to protect these magnificent creatures and their riders.”

Donna Brothers on behalf of the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition issued the following response:
“The loss of any equine athlete is felt by all of us in the Thoroughbred racing community. We can and will do better.

“This report provides our community with an important opportunity to reflect on and learn from its findings. Members of the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition will study it closely as we work to implement meaningful reforms on a national level. Transparency and accountability go hand-in-hand with ensuring that our horses and riders are racing under the safest conditions possible, and we applaud the CHRB for the effort and resources that went into compiling this report.

“The immediate and significant reforms implemented in California over the last year by tracks and horsemen, in close coordination with the CHRB and leading industry experts, have made a material and positive impact on the safety of our athletes. The protocols that have been put in place to-date have provided a promising start upon which the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition and our partners are building. On behalf of the Coalition, I look forward to continuing to harness unprecedented collective action to enhance the culture of safety in our sport.”

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