Another day, another dead horse at Santa Anita Park. The trend at the California racecourse has drawn concern from just about everyone, except the track’s operators.
Over the weekend two more horses died from race-related injuries, upping the death toll to 29 since December. The latest fatalities were enough to force the California Horse Racing Board into action. The CHRB recommended Santa Anita close its doors for the final six days of the meet. In a not-so-surprising twist, the track’s owners refused.
The Stronach Group said in a statement: “Since wide-sweeping reforms have been instituted at Santa Anita, catastrophic injuries have dropped considerably…decreasing by 50 percent in racing and by more than 84 percent in training,” the statement said. “To be clear, there are no acceptable losses, and every day we work toward ending all serious injuries.”
Technically, they have the legal authority to tell the CHRB to buzz off. The regulatory board must give the track at least ten days notice to suspend racing. The technicality has obviously angered many more folks, including California Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
“Santa Anita should have suspended racing in March after 23 horses died over a three-month stretch to open the season,” Feinstein said in a statement on Monday. “Now that six more horses have died in just 23 days ? 29 total deaths this season ? the track should suspend racing immediately.”
The track will not budge just because a Senator wants them to stop. There’s too much money involved. Luckily, there’s one bargaining chip that carries millions of consequences: the Breeders’ Cup.
Santa Anita Park is set to host the world’s two richest days in racing Nov. 1-2. That could all change. The Breeders’ Cup board meets in the final weekend of June to finalize this year’s host.
If the Breeders’ Cup board chooses to keep the event at Santa Anita, it will be a PR nightmare. A year after Justify won the Triple Crown, the horse racing industry’s two biggest headlines were a controversial Kentucky Derby disqualification and a plethora of fatalities at one of the nation’s most popular tracks. Instead of focusing on the ponies, the lead-up into a Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita will be filled with stories about the track’s safety concerns and the effectiveness of the newly implemented measures to prevent more fatalities from happening.
Santa Anita Park has been a black eye to the horse racing industry in 2019. Do the right thing and bring the Breeders’ Cup to the Bluegrass.