California State Representative Judy Chu is among those speaking out on the grisly horse deaths at Santa Anita Park.
Amid the controversy over 23 horses who have died while racing or training at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia since December, CBS2 has uncovered that there were 36 additional horse deaths at Santa Anita in 2018. According to documents obtained by CBS2’s David Goldstein, 36 horses had to be euthanized after racing or training accidents at Santa Anita last year.
CBS2 provided the 36 necropsy reports for those deaths to Veterinarian Dr. Kate Papp — who treats horses at Penn National Race Course in Pennsylvania – for review. Papp determined that nearly all those horses had pre-existing conditions.
“A lot of chronic wear and tear with the horses,” Papp told CBS2. “Signs that the horses may not have been 100 percent comfortable when they were racing and training.”
One of those 36 horses, Ten Blessings, suffered a shattered front ankle during a race.
“It (the necropsy report) does mention that the horse had a slab fracture on a completely different leg,” Papp said.
Another horse, Sweet Emma, had to be euthanized last April. Her necropsy showed a “predisposing lesion for the fracture” in her ankle. And Dial Me In, who was euthanized last April after making contact with another horse, showed a previous shoulder injury, according to the necropsy.
It’s unclear if the trainers or veterinarians for the 36 horses knew about these injuries. Papp says that in some instances they may have. However, she says that several trainers at Santa Anita have told her that they’re strongly encouraged to ensure the horses compete more often.
“If the racing office is calling, asking people to enter the horses before they’re ready to come back, that certainly puts another component of risk and that’s something that may be unique to Santa Anita,” Papp said.
Veterinarian Dr. Rick Arthur oversees horse welfare and safety for the California Horse Racing Board, which regulates all tracks in the state. Arthur admits that there is more pressure to perform at Santa Anita than at other tracks.
“Our horses work more here, and train more here, than they do in other jurisdictions,” Arthur told Goldstein.