Of the 23 horse deaths that happened at Santa Anita, none were found to have taken any illegal medication, according to a report released Tuesday from the California Horse Racing Board. The report also found that 39 percent of the deaths were a result of wet weather affecting surfaces.
The deaths which caused quite a stir and brought the race track to the national spotlight occurred between Dec. 30, 2018, and March 31, 2019. Track owners The Stronach Group were forced to make a fair amount of changes to their policy with regards to safety and medication.
Of the 22 horses that suffered catastrophic musculoskeletal injuries (CMI), 19 of them dealt with fractures specific to overexertion during training and racing. The report also found that 21 of those 22 went through high exercise intensity, which predisposed the horses with CMI to a catastrophic injury. While trainers reportedly felt pressured to run their horses, "none blamed the track itself for any fatality." There was also no evidence of animal welfare violations.
The following recommendations were made to the track:
- establish strict criteria for canceling racing based on weather
- require continuing education for trainers
- seek industry support for research into sesamoid bone and fetlock injuries, which caused the majority of the fatalities
Seven complaints will be filed alleging violation of failure to turn in daily vet reports, and three complaints will be filed alleging that there was training done without a proper license. Over 100 interviews with trainers, jockeys and vets were conducted, and 70 subpoenas were issued to trainers and vets for appropriate documents.
This report does not include the seven horses that died at Santa Anita from April 1 through June 23, 2019.