ARCADIA (CBSLA) — Santa Anita Park’s biggest day of racing went off without any injuries Saturday. No horses were euthanized.
But outside the park, demonstrators expressed outrage that it’s taken the death of 23 horses since December to get people to pay attention to the dangers of the sport.
KCAL9’s Jeff Nguyen spoke to racing fans and those who want to see serious changes in the sport, if not an end to it altogether.
This demonstration came after Arms Runner had to be euthanized last Sunday after he tripped and fell with another horse.
For Theresa Richards and Michael Hearn — attending the park’s flagship Derby Day is a family tradition.
“I’ve been bringing her for about 10-12 years. so between that time me and her haven’t seen a lot of deaths,” said Hearn.
Santa Anita reopened last week — following a 24-day suspension — and new safety protocols were put in place.
Today about 50 activists demonstrated outside the venue.
“Our goal today is to increase pressure on this death track. We want it shut down. We want horse racing to end in California,” said Heather Wilson.
Derby Day is a big deal because the highest stakes race is a $1 million steppingstone to qualify for the Kentucky Derby.
Fans like the Hearn family say they’re saddened by the surge of fatalities — but they don’t believe the animals are mistreated.
“They eat well. they go to the veterinarian. you know they get taken care of. they can’t even step on the track unless they’re prepared to run,” Hearn says.