Santa Anita Racetrack: Death Count Continues to Rise

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What can be described as strange and worrying horse deaths is steadily becoming a norm at the Santa Anita racetrack. U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein called for the park to be temporarily shut down following the 26th horse death which occurred over the weekend.

Santa Anita is not new to the game of horse racing. The park offers some of the most prominent horse racing events in the United States. The park is located outside of Los Angeles and its proximity to the city has made it popular in the film industry. Several celebrities have owned horses at the park.

Santa Anita racetrack experienced 10 horse deaths in 2017-2018, 8 in the years 2016-2017, and 14 in 2015-2016.

The track had been shut down earlier in March after the death of the 20thhorse. It was reopened two days later, after which the deaths continued at an alarming rate.

The California senior senator, Dianne Feinstein called for the drastic action of shutting down the track until a thorough and conclusive investigation is carried out. She spoke out after the death of a 9-year-old gelding called Kochees. The horse was said to have been injured during the track’s sixth race on Saturday.

Jockey Mario Gutierrez had detected a problem with Kochees after the far turn. The horse was then eased out of running before reaching the head of the stretch.  In her statements, the Senator said, “How many more horses must die before concrete steps are taken to address what is clearly an acute problem?”, “We need a thorough investigation of practices and conditions at the track before any more races are held,” Feinstein said.

Another horse dies at Santa Anita; 26 thoroughbreds have died at the track since Dec. 26

She went on to say that it was necessary the medications given to the horses was closely scrutinized, as well as their living conditions and if they were being stressed by overrunning.

There was no immediate comment from the representatives of Santa Anita track and its owner in Canada. The representatives also failed to respond or comment immediately after the temporary shutdown in March.

However, representatives from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) said that the race track shouldn’t be forced to stop business activities even temporarily.

NTRA CEO Alex Waldrop further said that the track’s owners and California regulators are working full time to address the senator’s concerns.

Senator Dianne Feinstein also hinted that the future of horse racing in the United States may be in question, she said “Tracks in the United States have significantly higher rates of deaths than tracks overseas. We need to determine what we are doing wrong in this country and fix it. If we can’t we need to consider whether horse racing has a future here”.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) were not left out from this call for action to shut down the Santa Anita tracks or fully investigate the situation. The senior vice president of PETA, Kathy Guillermo also spoke following Kochees death saying that Santa Anita and all California tracks should be shut down for investigation at which point zero-fatality rate should be the only acceptable solution.


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