Safety review team to inspect horses before racing at Santa Anita Park
ARCADIA, Calif. (FOX 11) - Santa Anita Park officials say a safety review team will be brought in for the final six days of horse races with the power to prevent horses from racing if they don't think they are healthy enough to compete.
The veterinary team will be composed of five members who will assess the horses' medical condition before racing at the track. According to officials, if one of the five members questions the fitness of a horse, the horse will not be permitted to race.
The decision from the race track owners to bring in a safety review team comes just one day after California Gov. Gavin Newsom called on the California Horse Racing Board to "ensure no horse races until they are examined by independent veterinarians and found fit to compete."
Newsom continued, "As Santa Anita prepares to host the 2019 Breeders' Cup in November, we must show the horse racing world that California puts safety first."
PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo put out a statement that reads:
"There should be no more racing anywhere in California until the district attorney's office completes its investigation. But PETA agrees that there's a need for independent veterinarians who are not part of the "drug 'em and race 'em" culture of private veterinarians and trainers at many tracks."
"In addition to performing physical exams, they must review all veterinary and workout records and analyze CT scans as soon as that technology is in place. Horses who need time to recover should not be racing, and trainers who insist on putting vulnerable horses on the track should lose their licenses."
Santa Anita Park has been under increased pressure to address the safety of horses after a 29th horse, a 3-year-old filly Truffino, suffered a heart attack on June 9.
In April, Santa Anita race track officials announced a series of measures to help increase the safety of horses at the track that included restrictions on some medications, requiring trainers to get permission in advance before putting a horse through a workout, and investing in a diagnostic equipment to aid in the early detection of pre-existing conditions.
The last six races are set for Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the next two weekends.
CNS contributed to this report