The DA Investigation Was a Farce From the Start – Killing Racehorses Has Always Been Perfectly Legal

“After a thorough investigation and review of the evidence, the District Attorney’s Task Force did not find evidence of criminal animal cruelty or unlawful conduct relating to the equine fatalities at Santa Anita Park.” – LA County DA Jackie Lacey’s report on Santa Anita

And so ends the much-ballyhooed investigation into the now-infamous Santa Anita spring (while the report covered fiscal year ’18-’19, it was prompted by the 36 deaths earlier this year). Nothing – but some safety “recommendations.” And we should not be surprised in the least. The key words above are “criminal” and “unlawful,” as in nothing to see here, according to California law. And technically, Lacey is right: These cruelty laws, woefully inadequate as most are, are designed to protect only some animals (i.e., our pets), while the others, unconscionably, are left to twist in the wind.

Regarding the treatment of animals in animal-exploitative industries, the law almost invariably defers to “common industry practice.” It’s why factory-farmed animals can be dehorned, debeaked, docked, branded, and castrated without anesthesia. It’s why breeder dogs can be kept in tiny cages for their entire lives. It’s why grisly scientific experiments can be conducted on primates. It’s why, for fear of the fully legal instrument of torture, the bullhook, Ringling elephants were known to defecate upon hearing their trainers’ voices. It’s why perhaps the most public form of animal abuse – the rodeo – merrily persists with impunity. And it’s why you can whip a horse at a racetrack but that same act done to a dog in the park would land you in jail.

What this report is really saying is that horseracing has a license to kill because one, it’s a legal enterprise, and two, because a certain level of death is understood (and accepted) by all. Indeed, the DA said as much: “Horse racing has inherent risks but is a legally sanctioned sport in California.” Risks, like the risk of a snapped neck, severed spine, or shattered leg. Risks, like the risk of “cardiovascular collapse” or “exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage.” Risks, like the risk of terrifying colic or excruciating laminitis. And risks, like the high risk of exsanguination at career’s end.

Lacey added: “The District Attorney’s Office lacks legal jurisdiction to regulate the horse racing industry.” So right back to the industry (as represented by the CHRB) it goes – the fox guarding the henhouse, just like those other animal industries.

On another note, I think it high time that every person and every organization – PETA, HSUS, et al. – be made to answer this simple question: Is horseracing wrong? Not are some parts of it wrong, but is it fundamentally wrong? If the answer is no, fine, at least we know where you stand (but please dispense forevermore with your hollow declarations of equine love and specious claims of “advocacy”). But if yes, then act like it. Stop issuing equivocal, confusing statements; stop “partnering” with industry interests; stop debating the relative merits of various “reforms”; stop compromising what are supposed to be your core values. If you deem horseracing animal cruelty, then get off the proverbial fence and say so. Enough already.

(One final note: In the report, the DA cited this passage from California’s penal code: “[A]nimal cruelty exists when a person subjects any animal to needless suffering, or inflicts unnecessary cruelty upon the animal.” Well, if $2 bets and entertainment does not meet the definition of “needless” or “unnecessary,” I’m not sure what does.)

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  1. Please may I get an opinion from all of you in the know
    Honestly even though this legislature did not come through as a beginning to the end I really believe that damage has been done. There are people who don’t want any part of a day at the races after enlightenment rom the media.

    • Yes,yes,andYES!! Agreed,we have to be like the little engine who could. Let’s NOT let our resolve waver. HELL NO!!!!!!!!! Nancy,today’s young people and the ones coming behind them..will not put up with horses being killed and maimed. It’s this corny ass old generation who’s the PROBLEM. They will not be around…forever (hopefully)🤣🤣🤣

    • I am now appalled by the “industry” of horse racing! Horses will race on their own with each other in a pasture, but the “entertainment” aspect and the betting should be stopped!
      And good luck with that! People see themselves to be inherently at the top of the food chain and will feel justified to kill and devour any animal they choose. In the USA we don’t eat the horses, but in many cultures they do. Horses are exploited here in other ways, i.e., racing, jumping, roping, etc.
      We also have to see that they cannot be sent for slaughter to other countries!

    • We must carry on and defend the horses.
      I am now getting educated about our wild horses. Good god….another messed situation.
      Horses being chased by helicopters!!!

  2. Doesn’t seem like anything has changed as far as the abuse goes! A $2 dollar bet to watch a horse being whiped and run until they drop from exhaustion or break a leg falls into the abuse catagory as far as I’m concerned!

  3. In spite of having their blinders on, or possibly having a conflict of interest, the LA DA’s report may be useful as evidence that a ban all horse racing in CA (and nationwide) is both justified and urgently needed. It’s as if the agency that should prosecute is saying, “Nope, nothing prosecutable here as far as we’re concerned; so [pat on the head] be on your way….” The beatings with the “whip” should be enough. At one time, decades ago, bull, dog, and cock fighting were also “legally sanctioned.” Other options might include (1) asking the CA Attorney General to prosecute (works faster if an existing elected official files the complaint); or (2) filing a cruelty case (PACT Act?) at the federal level; or (3) convincing legislators (or voters if an initiative could make it to the ballot) to stop the brutality by making the illegal cruelty of it more “understandable” or clearly enforceable–leave no wiggle room for a “legally sanctioned” argument.

  4. So they didn’t find “needless” suffering or “unnecessary” suffering.

    In other words, the suffering is needed as well as necessary — that’s a criminal statement if I ever heard one.

      • Wake up! The D.A. ,The Att’y Gen. Every law enforcement agency knows what’s going on. It’s people like you innocent,unrealistic and naive.Statements like yours are so naive,that the people you’re attacking,laugh at your comments.They don’t need to see pictures,they don’t care to see pictures,pictures got nothing to do with this. Pictures of Ben Franklin are the only pictures that matter to them.

    • So they’re implying that certain suffering is needed and necessary for racehorses? What’s the determining factor? As long as there’s money involved the horse’s suffering is necessary? Investigation, my ass. This was nothing but a three ring circus with a bunch of clowns dancing around like they were actually going to take blatant abuse and exploitation seriously.

  5. I have to question how animal welfare organizations that specifically mention they are against “animal exploitation” have no problem allowing and in some cases even endorsing horse racing. I think the bottom line is money – there’s no potential profit in protesting horse racing, and none of them have the balls to challenge a multi billion dollar industry. Never mind that horses are dying in ways that would make an animal abuser proud. Never mind that the only reason these horses are even out there is the crude gratification of society’s dregs’ desire for cheap gambling opportunities. There is no moral or ethical reason for these horse to die EVERY SINGLE DAY on racetracks other than their owners and trainers are parasites who wouldn’t know how to do anything else than live off the blood and life of non consensual sentient beings. This is not sport, this is not tradition, this is not a celebration of a breed of horse. This is modern day slavery, alive and well in America today, sanctioned by an albeit small group of people, financially supported by the American government, and ignored by the very organizations who want us to believe that they will take a stand against animal exploitation.
    I guess it’s easier to speak out against animal abuse in a foreign country where there’s no fear of repercussions than to face the ugly truth in their own back yard where they might actually take a stand for what they claim to believe.

  6. I think it’s common knowledge that Jackie is one of the more corrupt individuals involved in HR.
    How can one respect a crooked DA?
    We certainly don’t and of course conduct activities in accordance of that disrespect.
    It is a true shame she has now left
    it up to the common citizen to disrupt horse racing by any means.

  7. those ca. liberal judges cannot get anything right. they have no idea what the horses go through and do not even think about the jockeys dangers of riding a drugged horse. Its insanity. Its all about the money like everything else

  8. If it is true that the District Attorney’s Task Force did not find evidence of “criminal animal cruelty” I suspect that the laws need to be rewritten or amended to adequately describe what constitutes “criminal animal cruelty” in the State of California.

    This report is sickening and disheartening and is woefully inadequate, to say the least. As a consequence of refusing to recognize “criminal animal cruelty or unlawful conduct relating to the equine fatalities at Santa Anita Park” the racing and killing of horses will continue as scheduled on December 26, 2019, the day after Christmas. How sickening!!!

    This pathetic excuse for an investigation proves that this group, Horseracing Wrongs, needs to continue to educate the general public, anyone and everyone, of how bad horseracing is for the horses just as the circus was bad for elephants.

  9. Thank you Karen for brining up the Wild Mustangs fight for survival. The BLM is out of control and has just received 21 Million to round up horses until only a handful are remaining in the wild. Yes, there are laws against slaughter in this country or sending them abroad, but thousands are sent to Canada and Mexico due to some loop holes in the law. The Forest Service was not bound by that law and they have been sending horses to slaughter in Canada, and some of the Indian tribes in the NW have been doing it too. The wild horses need a safe, sane and humane management solution that this government does not seem to be able to address. I have been following the mustangs plight for quite some time, but have only recently been reading about the race horse atrocities. I commend you all for getting this word out on the race horses and hope that you may also support the wild mustangs in their fight for humane treatment in this country. Please take a look at the American Wild Horse Campaign website for all the up to date information. Thanks again for what you all are doing.

  10. Under running injured horses in the report~ “During Task Force interviews, treating veterinarians confirmed they did not identify any red flags that would have alerted them to the horses’ preexisting degenerative conditions.” California law states, diagnosis or assessment prior to performing a treatment. Which leads me to ask, what is the definition on the chrb of running an injured horse? And also if you look into the report medication and shockwave were used of most of if not all these horses, so why medication( mainly pain killers) and shockwave if the horses in question are not injured? Cant wait to see the necropsies posted, theres the undeniable evidence, that the da also had as a part of their so called “investigation” sounds to me like all the other ” investigations” that go on, lies, lies, and more damn lies. Dont forget horse health and safety is the industries top priority, as the horses are failed by the system daily. Money, buissness, and gambling folks thats all this is. Lets not forget the governments of the state get their cut on all of it, why else would they sit back and allow all if it to continue, sure as hell isnt the jobs.

    • The horses are always injured..BECAUSE THEY ARE put into Training as babies. That’s why certain sires like Tapit,Into Mischief..have early results,because they were high strung horses,and their offspring run because of that. They are high strung. They don’t mature well ,beyond that initial high strung phase. Look it up ,if you don’t think I KNOW what I’m talking about.

  11. The DA task force obviously were paid off handsomely for this report.If not, they are indeed callous idiots who care nothing for animal welfare. Pathetic, having U.S.taxpayers pay for their ignorance.

    • Spot on, Rose.
      So, when they state “no unnecessary or needless suffering”, they’re saying that there is necessary and needed suffering of these horses. To my mind, any reasonable thinking person could only come to the conclusion that the horses in the racing industry are suffering animal abuse because it’s necessary and needed for horseracing to function.

  12. They purposely train them too soon,as infants….because they don’t want them to last..the money for these assholes is in the stud fees…f’n scumbags.The whole thing is a scam!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Bonnie, you are correct. This whole “nothing wrong here” line of obvious lies is absolutely a scam. There is no doubt in my mind that the outcome of this phony investigation was predetermined so that all of the worst offenders of horseracing killing could come out as not guilty of CRUELTY and TORTURE. It appears obvious that the whole system is totally corrupt and the horses will continue to suffer as a consequence of the District Attorney being a part of the corruption that promotes and perpetuates “criminal animal cruelty and unlawful conduct relating to equine fatalities at Santa Anita Park” and every other horseracing track.

      • Bonnie, exactly! All of the owners, trainers, veterinarians, racetrack owners, all people involved are guilty of gross negligence and criminal animal cruelty and criminal conduct. That would include the people doing the so-called investigation. If they were being honest and not falsifying the “records” and paperwork, anything that would obviously be considered evidence of CRUELTY and TORTURE of racehorses, the outcome would be much different!!!!!

    • Hi Callie,

      There are many ways to help end horseracing. You can sign and share our three Change.org petitions, write letters and make calls to lawmakers, share our blog with friends and family, stand with fellow advocates to protest racetracks in your community (sponsored by HW), speak at public hearings like the CHRB meetings in California, table at a public event A display HW literature and information or donate to help fund our educational campaigns. A new billboard will be unveiled in Pasadena, CA in just a couple weeks.

      Please feel free to reach out via our contact form for help. Thank you for caring about the horses!

      Nicole Arciello
      Vice President, HW

  13. Defeat is not an option. All horse racing must stop. Animal advocates around the world will not stop until every single horse has been removed from the race track……alive!

  14. They obviously are being paid off by the racing industry. This is abuse and anyone can see this they’re just being paid to look the other way. We have to be relentless in spotlighting this horrible abuse and putting pressure on them and exposing the callousness and heartless behavior!

  15. It seems obvious to me that the same conditions exist in horse racing that existed in greyhound racing. Animals born and bred to be exploited for our “entertainment” and “sport”, then casually thrown in the dump or slaughtered when they break. This is unacceptable. No horse should be exploited so ruthlessly. It’s time to outlaw horse racing.

  16. This report, overseen by D.A. Lacey, is a total exoneration of horse racing in California.
    This report condones the daily abusive business practices (doping and shockwave therapy that is used with malicious intent to keep a sore racehorse going to flip a buck) and all the other unnatural daily routines to isolate a racehorse and reduce it to nothing more than a $2 bet.
    This cements the industries mentality that racehorses are mere objects, property, there to be used, abused, doped, and killed.
    It further validates the legal fact that racehorses are mere “chattels” that the industry can do whatever it wants to it and it even justifies racehorses dropping dead as an “inherent risk.”
    A huge piece of the puzzle is missing from this report though, which are the SECRET doping/vet/treatment records LEADING UP TO THE DEATHS.
    They list the drugs found in the racehorses who died ON THE DAY that they died citing that all dope found was LEGAL, but they failed to list all of the dope LEADING UP to the deaths and this is a KEY point.
    The daily doping regimes leading up to the deaths of racehorses are KEY to showing just how abused these racehorses are and they are sanctioned by trainers who know that their racehorses are sore, have painful pre-existing conditions that negate rest away from training and racing.
    Yet, they choose to maliciously and abusively force dope and treatments on them to keep them going.
    So, this in and of itself, blows this report apart and further shows intentional disregard for the racehorses.
    This report should make it abundantly clear, to anybody who opposes horse racing, that it’s going to be up to us, the people, to SHUT this down via ballots, and political pressure.
    Quite frankly, this report rubber stamps the ongoing widespread pain, suffering, and dying of racehorses and it doesn’t surprise me since California horse racing is organized and run by attorneys who own racehorses, are involved with racehorse syndicates, and represent their trainer who gets repeated doping positives.
    It’s a build-in system and you can bet your bottom dollar that these attorneys bombarded the D.A’s office with letters and, perhaps, visits to the D.A.’s office.
    I didn’t realize that the D.A’s office was a public relations entity of horse racing because it sure as hell seems that way and they are paid for by taxpayers.
    It should seem abundantly clear to anybody who opposes horse racing that we, the people, are going to have to take the reins to shut it down via ballots and political pressure.

  17. California horse racing is state-sanctioned racehorse cruelty, abuse, pain, suffering and dying.
    This report obliterates the notion that “reform” is possible and to continue down this path will never ensure anything good for the racehorses.
    It never has whether in California or any other state.
    It’s time to focus on what really needs to be done, and HRW’s stance to BAN horse racing is the only solution to this state-sanctioned widespread abuse and dying.
    I’m not surprised by this report as it’s merely a continuation of what has always been masked by public wallpaper and empty rhetoric.
    We, the people, must carry the torch, get this on the ballot and shut it down.
    Obviously our politicians and government financially benefit from this pain and suffering of racehorses and this report, in the least, makes it abundantly clear.
    It’s extremely disappointing that one of the largest animal rights group, PETA, is not leading the way with getting this on the ballot as they continue to sit on the fence by focusing on the “reformist” approach.
    It’s equally disappointing that one of the largest animal advocacy groups, The Humane Society, supports horse racing.
    It seems clear that both have probably accepted “shut-up” money from the horse racing industry via donations.
    No worries – it will be up to horseracingwrongs, it’s supporters and it’s grassroots donations that will be a true friend of the racehorses in the end.
    HRW is the leading non-profit organization that can’t be bought by the horse racing industry.
    It will remain true to form and I’m very grateful to Patrick, Nicole, all the Board members, the voices for the racehorses and the supporters.

    • Gina Powell, thank you so much for your perspective and I believe you when you say that horseracing cannot be reformed. The lack of honesty and/or integrity of horseracing insiders and government officials is blatantly obvious once a person pays attention to what is going on in the world of horseracing. Every day horses are suffering somewhere because there are criminals abusing the horses in a way that is inherent to racing. It evidently is so ingrained in the horseracing world that it evidently is not recognized as abuse. After all, there are people in the so-called Hall of Fame that are recognized for being the trainers of horses who have won the most races and/or Grade One horse races. They abused their horses to get that recognition as well as money. The doping/drugging can be both legal and illegal; but who is going to be the “fly on the wall” to catch them and stop them from pumping or shooting drugs into these horses that are locked up in a stall 23 (twenty-three) hours a day???

      I understand that PETA is not doing everything to stop horseracing and, therefore, the inherent animal abuse of horses that goes on everyday. I do appreciate that the PETA group has made efforts to educate people, the public, on how bad the abuse is by obtaining undercover video and audio of some of the horrible things that “people” do to animals including horses! With the newer laws regarding animal cruelty and torture, it is my understanding that to show video of animals being horribly abused and killed is against the law. Therefore, people that care about learning what is happening to racehorses are going to have to rely on ways of finding the facts of CRUELTY and TORTURE of racehorses other than YouTube videos.

      As long as there is an attorney or lawyer that will defend people who abuse horses, there will never be a possibility of reform. No incorrigible criminal can be reformed. That’s why they are called incorrigible.

      • Yes PETA has done amazing work on behalf of animals.
        However, the way I see it, all of that work, that education, is going to hell in a hand basket because they won’t take a strong unequivocal stance to BAN horse racing.
        For example, on their PETA podcasts directly relating to horse racing, which is being led by VP Kathy Guillermo.
        She knows her stuff – no doubt, but when her husband presses her for a stance she teeters and totters.
        She claims to “oppose” horse racing, but supports reforms or anything to lessen the suffering and deaths.
        Merely “opposing” horse racing by saying it is nothing more than lip service because we need action from PETA and ALL people, groups who OPPOSE horse racing.
        We need to all come together now and hold a press conference, and state our stance.
        Mere words are not enough.
        We now have a once in a lifetime chance to put horse racing on the 2020 ballot and put the question to the residents of California.
        This is the one and only chance for racehorses and it should be obvious to anybody, especially PETA, that we all need to come together and ramp up our efforts, our resources (PETA has an enormous membership in California) to ensure that this gets on the ballot instead of dragging their feet, sitting on the fence, and supporting the “reformist” approach.
        PETA should be pissed-off over this D.A’s report and they need to come out and make their stance clear.
        Otherwise, as far as I’m concerned, all of their efforts, their good deeds are nothing more than words.
        Did they cut a back room deal with Belinda Stronach?
        Another thing, one of the pre-requisites to get into the Racing Hall of (Sh)ame is to kill racehorses, lots of them, and to have multiple doping violations along the way.
        All the trainers who are in the Racing Hall of (Sh)ame have multiple doping violations and a long trail of dead racehorses during their illustrious “career.”
        The horse racing business has been operating with total impunity for years, and they especially resent people like me, groups like HRW, and/or anybody who tries to hold them accountable.
        They are a bunch of racehorse abusers – there’s no business in our civilized society that permits an animal to be beaten into the ground in full public view – NONE.
        They don’t even one to be held accountable for the most obvious, blatant form of animal cruelty.
        This business attracts sociopaths who are in it to abuse racehorses for their own selfish means, then dump.
        These people flock to horse racing because they know that they can be cruel and abuse racehorses with zippo accountability, slap on the wrist penalties, and walk away scott-free while squeezing every last drop of sweat, blood, and broken bones out of these poor racehorses.
        They are all parasitic life-sucking leeches and our laws do nothing to protect them not even the D.A’s office.

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