Santa Anita Horsemen Weigh Options After Shutdown

POSTED ON  |  07-03-2019

Santa Anita testing
Horsemen at Santa Anita Park are trying to decide their best course of action for their Thoroughbreds after track management announced March 5 an indefinite suspension of racing. On the morning of March 6, more than 100 trainers met in the Santa Anita backstretch kitchen to discuss the situation with their California Thoroughbred Trainers representatives. 
  • "We wanted to hear what they were most concerned about," said Alan Balch, executive director of CTT. "Aside from the obvious, which is how long this is going to be, the main concern is the training track and being able to get horses out of their stalls and out of the backstretch. High-performance racehorses are in a 12-by-12 stall and in a shedrow, and that can't be sustained for long for the welfare and the safety of the horses."
The horsemen said the training track would allow horses to exercise.
  • "We're not trying to get the training track open for working," Balch said. "We're trying to get the training track open for exercise."
Horsemen were hopeful that the training track could be opened as early as March 8, probably for jogging and galloping only. Rain continued to fall steadily March 6 in the Arcadia, Calif., area, with the forecast calling for rain throughout the day and a 34% chance of precipitation Thursday and 41% chance Friday.

The track's decision to close indefinitely followed 21 equine fatalities during morning training and racing since Dec. 26. Management announced Tuesday it had brought back former track superintendent Dennis Moore as a consultant, while Dr. Mick Peterson and his associates continue to test the service. Balch added that while the trainers would like to have the training track open by Thursday, they realize track management will make that decision based on weather and other factors.
  • "Dennis needs to inspect the training track," Balch said. "Dennis not only inspects the footing, he checks the grades. He's a surveyor. He wants to check the evenness and everything. We all agree this is about safety."
Industry leaders are examining other options. Dr. Edward Allred of Los Alamitos Race Course quickly offered the use of 300-350 stalls at that track. Thoroughbreds train there year-round as part of the Southern California stabling situation, though currently that track is only conducting Quarter Horse racing.

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