Santa Anita has put together a five-member team to review horses’ medical, training and racing history for the final six racing days at the Southern California track where 29 horses have died since December.
The Arcadia track’s season ends June 23, with racing Friday, Saturday and Sunday this week and next.
Led by the California Horse Racing Board’s equine medical director, Dr. Rick Arthur, and chief steward, Darrel McHargue, the review team includes independent CHRB vets and stewards, who supervise the outcome of horse races.
The review team will decide if individual horses are at elevated risk of injury before racing. They will look at any history of a horse on the veterinarian’s list and steward’s list as well as medical and race history and physical observations of the horse.
All five members of the review team must agree that a horse isn’t at elevated risk of injury in order to clear the animal to race. One objection can prevent a horse from racing.
The Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita, has agreed to instruct the racing secretary, who currently decides if a horse is fit to race, to deny the entry of any such horse, and the review team’s recommendation will serve as the final word.
“This is unprecedented in American horse racing,” said Alexis Podesta, secretary of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency, which oversees the CHRB. “Never have we had this additional layer of review with a team of experts to connect data points and confer on the well-being and capability of individual race horses.”
The review team was formed in response to Gov. Gavin Newsom, who called on the CHRB to ensure that no horse competes until it is examined by independent veterinarians and found fit to race.
“I continue to be troubled by the horse deaths at Santa Anita Park. Enough is enough,” Newsom said this week.