CHRB Issues Report on Findings Regarding Horse Deaths

POSTED ON  |  12-03-2020

CHRB report on Santa Anita
A report issued March 10 by the California Horse Racing Board into the rash of catastrophic injuries that occurred during the 2018-19 winter meet at Santa Anita Park concluded there were no illegal medications found in any of the 23 horses that died.

The report's introduction said 22 of the horses that died between Dec. 30, 2018, and March 31, 2019, incurred a fatal musculoskeletal injury; one horse died suddenly during training. The report outlined various factors that could have led to the fatalities, including weather, backgrounds, health histories of the horses, track conditions, and management practices.

"The California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) routinely reviews all fatalities but opened an in-depth investigation of these 23 deaths," the CHRB said in the introduction. "The goals of this CHRB investigation were to uncover any potential CHRB violations related to these fatalities and, more importantly, to analyze the information in order to improve racehorse welfare and safety in California. The purpose of this investigation was fourfold: 1) To prevent more horses from suffering catastrophic injuries as part of the cluster or outbreak; 2) To prevent future clusters or outbreaks of catastrophic injuries; 3) To further understand the etiology (causes) of catastrophic injuries; and 4) To develop injury prevention strategies."

In regards to whether there was pressure for horsemen to enter horses in races, the report concluded, "While several trainers said during investigative interviews that they felt pressured to run their horses, only one gave a specific example."

The report stated that as a result of the investigation into the horse fatalities, there will be complaints filed against individuals for alleged violations of CHRB rules.

"For each horse fatality, the investigator wrote an investigative report covering the entirety of the law enforcement investigation, concluding with whether any CHRB rules or criminal laws appeared to have been violated," the report stated. "Seven complaints will be filed alleging violations of Rule 1842, Veterinarian Report, for failing to turn in daily reports, and three complaints will be filed alleging violations of Rule 1894, Duties of a Trainer, and/or Rule 1489(a)(4) Grounds for Denial or Refusal of License, for training without the proper license. None of the investigations found evidence of an animal welfare violation (CHRB Rule 1902.5)."

During a teleconference to discuss the report, CHRB officials said many of the recommendations in the report that could help prevent future catastrophic events, including the implementation of diagnostic equipment that could help identify at-risk horses, have already been implemented.

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