District Attorney Forms Task Force To Investigate Equine Fatalities At Santa Anita - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

District Attorney Forms Task Force To Investigate Equine Fatalities At Santa Anita

Thoroughbreds training at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.

Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced on Tuesday the formation of a task force to investigate the 23 equine fatalities at Santa Anita Park. The district attorney's office has been working with the California Horse Racing Board to monitor Santa Anita since March 16, but the independent task force is new.

“I have formed a task force of experienced deputy district attorneys and sworn peace officers with varied expertise within my office who will thoroughly investigate and evaluate the evidence to determine whether unlawful conduct or conditions affected the welfare and safety of horses at Santa Anita Park,” Lacey said.

The Stronach Group closed Santa Anita in order to conduct a full analysis of the main dirt track, but has now returned to racing and is scheduled to run through June.

“Santa Anita has, is and will continue to fully cooperate with the district attorney's investigation,” Santa Anita spokesman Mike Willman told abcnews.com. “The Stronach Group is fully committed to modernizing our sport in a way that prioritizes the welfare and safety of horses above all. We will work with anyone—including the district attorney's office—that share our commitment to this cause.”

“We hope for some real answers,” said Kathy Guillermo, senior vice president of PETA. The organization requested an investigation into the deaths at Santa Anita on March 1.

“The public deserves to know whether injured horses were medicated and subjected to painful shockwave therapy just to keep them running, even though their bones were likely to snap. The racing industry has shown that it's incapable of policing itself, and PETA hopes this task-force investigation will finally lead to the end of abusive practices that are killing horses on tracks in California.”

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