Last year, California enacted a law that gives the California Horse Racing Board the authority to “at any time, immediately suspend a license to conduct a racing meeting when necessary to protect the health and safety of the horses…. The suspension shall remain in effect until the board determines that the matters jeopardizing the health and safety of the horses…have been adequately addressed.” It was, of course, a direct response to the Santa Anita Spring, at which, at the time, 36 horses lay dead. To date, this authority has yet to be exercised.
This year, Santa Anita’s neighbor, Los Alamitos, has claimed 29 lives. With pressure mounting, the CHRB held an emergency meeting Thursday, with the prospect of a shutdown (which surely would be only temporary) on the horizon. I mean, if 29 kills in a little over six months doesn’t set a threshold, what will? Well, Friday the CHRB decided to kick that question down the road. Los Al will remain open, but is on a 10-day probation during which it must come up with a “plan” to address the carnage. A “plan” – ‘twould be risible if not for the fact that horses are suffering and dying.
In defense of the track, Bob Baffert – yes, that Bob Baffert – told the Board Friday, “As a track surface, I consider it the best surface. Los Alamitos is sort of the standard of all track surfaces. That is the safest racing surface that I’ve trained on.”
Greg Avioli, president and CEO of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, concurred: “The TOC would support the continuation of training and racing at Los Alamitos.”
And Dr. Rick Arthur, the Board’s equine medical director: “I see no evidence that it’s a track surface problem. I do not believe that Los Alamitos is an unsafe track.”
“Best.” “The standard.” “Safest.” 20 – count them, 20 – killed racing or training on that surface (an additional 9 have perished back in their stalls). And now this track, on “probation,” working diligently on its “plan,” has probably claimed another. In the 6th yesterday, 2-year-old Alltime Favorite was, according to the chartwriter, “injured, vanned off.” As I’ve oft written, that description at that track almost always means dead. (I have reached out to the CHRB for confirmation. Nothing yet.)
So the question, California, is where do you go from here? If the ethics of animal use are to be taken seriously, if the phrase “animal cruelty” is to have any meaning, then you, as the nation’s leader on matters like these, must act now. End this madness.
Voice your outrage: Link this post. Cite data from this website. Tell them horseracing is animal cruelty; horseracing must end.