Santa Anita Officials Tout Safest Year on Record as Winter/Spring Meet Ends

2023 Breeders' Cup World Championship

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ARCADIA (CNS) - Santa Anita Park officials said Monday its newly concluded winter-spring season, along with last year's fall meet, combined to give the track a 99.97% racing safety record for horses, ranking it as the safest track of similar size and activity in North America.

The six-month winter-spring meet ended Sunday. During that span and the six-week fall meet that began Sept. 29, 2023, a total of 6,678 horses ran in races on Santa Anita's main track and turf course, with two racing fatalities, according to the track and California Horse Racing Board records.

Another 12 horses died at the track during that span due to training injuries, either from musculoskeletal or non-musculoskeletal injuries, according to CHRB statistics. According to Santa Anita, the park has training operations throughout the year, with more than 375,000 training sessions annually.

"It is impossible to overstate the diligence that the entire racing community has put into prioritizing the safety of the horse above all else," Nate Newby, senior vice president and general manager of Santa Anita Park, said in a statement. "From the owners, trainers, jockeys, veterinarians and the hardworking men and women who care for the horses each day, everyone has done their part to make safety our North Star.

"Winter is always a challenge with weather, and we have a tremendous Santa Anita Park track crew, led by veteran Dennis Moore, whose tireless efforts and countless long days were vitally important," Newby said. "We are grateful to the CHRB for their unwavering leadership in placing the welfare of the horse first, and especially to our horseplayers, who continue to support Santa Anita Park which enable all of us to continue these industry-leading efforts."

Santa Anita officials have touted safety improvements that have brought down the annual number of fatalities since 2019, when at least 42 horses died at the track, sparking widespread debate about safety issues at Santa Anita and about horse racing in general.

Despite changes aimed at boosting safety, animal-rights advocates have continued to press for an end to horse-racing, citing continued fatalities at tracks nationwide.

"No legitimate sport would tolerate the deaths of 13 of its athletes in 23 weeks of competition at one venue, which is the same number of deaths there in the same time period in 2023," Martha Sullivan of the group Kill Racing Not Horses said in a statement Monday.

Santa Anita saw 12 racing and training deaths in 2022, and 17 in 2023, according to CHRB data.

Copyright 2024, City News Service, Inc.

CNS-06-17-2024 11:36

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