The number of horse deaths at a California racetrack now stands at 22. Since Late December, multiple horses have died at Santa Anita Park, leaving the sport’s insiders frantically looking for answers and solutions.
In one major decision, a zero-tolerance policy was declared for administering same-day race medication and whipping prized stallions.
“These thoroughbred racetracks will be the first in North America to follow the strict International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) standards,” Belinda Stronach, chair and president of track owner The Stronach Group, wrote in a press release.
It’s an unheard-of move in the sport of American horse racing, coming just two days after racing was reinstituted on the main track at Santa Anita after a full race suspension last week.
According to The Los Angeles Times, The track is trying to resume racing on March 22, but no definitive answer has materialized for this rash of horse fatalities.
Horses in training will only be allowed therapeutic medication, out-of-competition training will be significantly increased, and park officials are increasing the time required for horses to be on-site prior to a race, according to the press release.
At the center of the debate is the use of a drug called Lasix. Park officials have now banned the substance. It’s an anti-bleeding medication. Throughout the world, same-day drugs are banned in competition, but not the in U.S. The announcement on banning it has some championing the action as a step toward bringing the U.S. in line with other nations and safeguarding the animals.
“We know firsthand that owners, trainers and jockeys love and care deeply for their horses. We, too, love the horses, and we’re making these changes to put the health and welfare of the horse and rider first,” said Tim Ritvo, COO of The Stronach Group, Santa Anita’s parent company.