California legislature passes bill allowing CHRB to suspend racing

June 25, 2019 11:03am

Senate Bill 469, which will allow the California Horse Racing Board power to suspend or move racing days without a 10-day public notice period, is only a signature from Gov. Gavin Newsom away from going into effect.

The legislation brought by Sen. Bill Dodd was unanimously approved Monday by the legislature, Dodd’s office announced.

“We must take action now to protect horses and jockeys, ensuring safety is always paramount in California horse racing,” Dodd’s statement says. “Because clearly, there is a problem here, and we can’t sit back and do nothing.”

Newsom has already voiced his support for the bill which, if passed earlier this month, would have likely ended Santa Anita Park’s season early. That 30 horses died as a result of injuries suffered in racing and training since Dec. 26 became a national news story prompting questions about racing’s future in Southern California.

While Santa Anita experienced a safe period after suspending on-track activity to implement a number of new safety reforms, a spree of fatalities in late May brought the issue back to the forefront.

The CHRB earlier this month requested Santa Anita management stop racing after a 28th fatality occurred. The track, owned and operated by The Stronach Group, declined. Later that day, on June 9, a 29th horse collapsed and died on track after suffering an apparent heart attack.

To be clear, there are no acceptable losses, and every day we work toward ending all serious injuries," a statement said released by The Stronach Group, the Thoroughbred Owners of California and California Thoroughbred Trainers. "But the reality is that our improvements and changes have been effective."

The meet’s final fatality on Saturday morning prompted a historic decision by The Stronach Group to ban Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer from stabling and racing at its tracks. Of the 30 horses to die last season, four were trained by Hollendorfer across varying class levels, from claimers to the Breeders’ Cup winner Battle of Midway.

Santa Anita Park is scheduled to resume racing in September before hosting the Breeders’ Cup for a record 10th time on Nov. 1-2. SB 469, however, will also grant the CHRB power to reallocate racing dates.

The bill was co-authored by Adam Gray, D-Merced, Sen. Susan Rubio, D-Baldwin Park and Assemblymember Ed Chau, D-Arcadia. 
Dodd, a Democrat, chairs the Senate Governmental Organization committee, which oversees horse racing, among other things.


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