ARCADIA (CBSLA) — Racing resumed at Santa Anita Park Friday, even as officials are still looking for what caused the death of 22 horses and how to prevent any future deaths.
Protesters were on hand just as the first race got underway at 1 p.m., one day after the California Board of Horse Racing met to consider new rules for the safety of the horses.
The deaths of 22 horses since the day after Christmas have prompted two halts to racing at the track and plenty of criticism from animal activists including PETA. Officials have investigated everything from the heavy winter rain’s effects on the track to medication taken by the horses as possibly causing the deaths.
“There is no one magic bullet, black and white answer to that,” Santa Anita Park spokesman Mike Willman said.
With critics saying medication and whips possibly pushing horses beyond their limits, the California Board of Horse racing took their first steps toward banning the use of whips during horse races and restricting race day medication. They also adopted a measure banning jockeys from using riding crops except when needed for safety. These new rules will undergo a 45-day comment period and will need a final board vote.
One new measure that will immediately go into effect will be a reduction in medication called Lasix, a diuretic that helps prevent horses from hemorrhaging.
The last horse to die at Santa Anita Park was on March 14. Willman said he was happy to note there has been no further problems as horses continued training during the racing hiatus.
“In the 15 mornings of training, over 2,000 horses have worked without incident,” Willman said.