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After CHRB Report on Santa Anita, Rep. Chu Calls for Stronger Protections for Horses

February 5, 2020
Press Release

Washington, DC — On Monday, the California Horse Racing Board released their annual report on horse racing in California for the 2019 calendar year. The report showed that nearly 90% of fatalities in 2019 were associated with pre-existing, undetected stress fractures. It also found that the dirt track at Santa Anita was responsible for four times as many fatalities as the turf track, despite holding only 30% more races. Among the report’s recommendations for curbing horse deaths are better veterinary record keeping, stricter regulations on the use of all medications, use of diagnostic imaging before a race, and a prohibition on racing on tracks deemed to be unsafe due to weather conditions, like the dirt track at Santa Anita. Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), who represents Santa Anita, issued the following statement:

“This report confirms what we have been hearing from trainers, owners, jockeys, veterinarians, and others: that we need to do a better job of protecting horses from overwork and unsafe tracks. Medicines like Lasix and grueling training schedules make it easier to overwork horses, leading to many of the small, unnoticeable fractures that can become fatal in a race. Likewise, rushing to race on a dirt track even when weather conditions have made it dangerous exacerbate this threat. With this report, we have even more support for stronger regulations on when horses can race and on what surfaces. It also supports the need for pre-race screening. I am encouraged that Santa Anita has recently purchased a state of the art standing PET Scanner to detect these injuries, and I urge them to use it to ensure every horse scheduled to race is safe to run. Finally, we cannot rely on a patchwork of regulations to solve this problem. Regulations recommended by the CHRB could save lives for horses outside of California as well, but because we lack a federal body to oversee horse racing, each state is free to set their own standards, contributing to America’s higher rate of horse deaths compared to other countries. That is why I was encouraged by last week’s hearing for H.R. 1754, the Horseracing Integrity Act in the Energy and Commerce Committee. This legislation, which would establish a federal Horseracing Anti-Doping and Medication Control Authority to standardize safety and medication standards across the United States, is needed more than ever.”