Statement: 'Stakeholders' say Santa Anita Park will stay open

Statement: 'Stakeholders' say Santa Anita Park will stay open
Photo: Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire

The Stronach Group, the Thoroughbred Owners of California and California Thoroughbred Trainers collectively announced Sunday night that Santa Anita Park – which has now seen 29 equine deaths as a result of racing and training since Dec. 26 – will continue its racing season.

Santa Anita has six more racing dates left in its current meet: this coming Friday through Sunday and June 21-23.

Sunday at Santa Anita, the 3-year-old filly Truffalino collapsed near the wire of a turf race and died. Trainer Richard Mandella told the Daily Racing Form she suffered an apparent heart attack.

That death was the 29th during Santa Anita’s current racing season. It came one day after 4-year-old gelding Formal Dude fractured his pelvis during a race and was euthanized.

After reports surfaced of Formal Dude's death, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that the California Horse Racing Board asked Santa Anita to suspend racing for the remaining seven days of its season.

"It is our understanding that Santa Anita management, after consultation with certain other industry stakeholders, believes that for a variety of reasons, the future of California racing is best served by continuing to race," the CHRB told the Times in a statement.

Hours later, and after reports of Truffalino’s death, Santa Anita and The Stronach Group, which operates the Arcadia, Calif., track, released the following statement. It was attributed to The Stronach Group, the Thoroughbred Owners of California and California Thoroughbred Trainers:

“We are collectively working on behalf of everyone in the sport – grooms, hot walkers, jockeys, exercise riders, starters, trainers, owners, track managers and every horse wearing a bridle and a saddle – to reform and improve racing every day. After extensive consultation among all partners, Santa Anita Park will stay open through the end of its meet to see these reforms through.

"Since wide-sweeping reforms have been instituted at Santa Anita, catastrophic injuries have dropped considerably compared to earlier this meet, decreasing by 50 percent in racing and by more than 84 percent in training. To be clear, there are no acceptable losses, and every day we work toward ending all serious injuries. But the reality is that our improvements and changes have been effective.

"A detailed and serious epidemiological investigation of all track accidents is underway and will continue with the greatest urgency. Track management, owners, trainers and veterinarians, are re-doubling their vigilance and close supervision of both training and racing protocols and will consider all enhancements to the sweeping new protocols already introduced. We have great respect for Governor Newsom and the CHRB, and we look forward to working closely with them as we continue to discuss these issues.”

Kathy Guillermo, PETA senior vice president, on Monday issued the following statement, calling on tracks nationwide to suspend racing:

"What's happening at Santa Anita right now is a microcosm of what's happening in racing nationally: broken bones, death, and public outrage. Horses aren't dying only in California. Their bodies litter tracks in New York, Kentucky, Florida, Texas, and many other states. PETA recently called for tracks nationwide to suspend racing until they can implement long-needed and significant changes that will help end the cruelty and protect horses. We renew this call. Shut down until you get synthetic surfaces, CT scan equipment in place, the drugs out, the whips banished, and the trainers with multiple violations banned permanently."

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