SANTA ANITA (CBSLA)  — California Governor Gavin Newsom called for a temporary end to horse races at Santa Anita Park after two more horses were euthanized this weekend.

The deaths bring the total to 29 since December when racing season began.

“I continue to be troubled by the horse deaths at Santa Anita Park,” Newsom said. “Enough is enough.”

Newsom went on to say that there shouldn’t be any races until the horses are examined by independent veterinarians and found fit to compete.

CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Lesley Marin said the 28th to die was named Formal Dude. The 4-year-old gelding had to be put down following an injury during the tenth race Saturday.

The California Horse Racing Board has already asked Santa Anita to shut its doors for the rest of the season. But the track has chosen to remain open.

The activists returned to demonstrate outside the track, one day after Formal Dude was put down.

“No matter what they do, horses keep getting killed here, it needs to stop,” said activist Heather Wilson.

PETA said a 29th horse — Trufallino, a 3-year-old filly  — also had to be put down.

Upon learning of the death, PETA senior vice president Kathy Guillermo issued the following statement:

“Either the rules aren’t strong enough or the rules aren’t being followed, but whatever the reason for the deaths of two more horses, Santa Anita needs to listen to the California Horse Racing Board and shut down. It should not re-open until full-leg scan equipment is in place, since most pelvis injuries also show lesions in the legs; the dirt track has been replaced with a safer synthetic surface; and the district attorney’s investigation into trainers and veterinarians is complete.”

Meanwhile, the track’s owners are being sued by nine activists.

New video, connected to the lawsuit, was released by the plaintiffs Sunday. They are suing for unspecified punitive damages — and the right to protest outside the track.

They said they were prevented from protesting and were assaulted by park security on March 3.

Heather Wilson is one of the plaintiffs. On the video she is shown being forcibly arrested. She is heard yelling “he’s choking me, he’s choking me” and “assault, assault” as a guard grabbed her from behind.

“That was when I was put in a choke hold,” Wilson says, “And I was handcuffed very tightly.”

The videos shows her being arrested along with two other protesters.

On video, you hear her being told she’s being arrested for trespassing. You hear the protesters being asked to leave gate 8 and being warned with arrest.

Marin reached out for a comment from Santa Anita Sunday but they claimed to not know about the lawsuit.

Since the deaths began, the track has been tested multiple times.

In April, a series of new measures were put in place to bolster horse safety, including restriction on medicating before racing.

“These people clearly don’t care about humans, they don’t care about the Constitution, they don’t care about the law and they definitely do not care about their horses,” Wilson says.

Horse racing season is scheduled to end June 23.

Comments (17)
  1. John Trapp says:

    I guess now the professionally offended will get rid of horse racing.

  2. Ellen Ericksen says:

    What will it take to shut this death track down, the National Guard? Racing horses at all tracks needs an immediate ban in California, so many horses die every year.

  3. Jennofur OConnor says:

    This makes me sick. Horses should not have to suffer and die so people can win a few bucks. Please: Don’t gamble on horses’ lives.

  4. Kim Marie says:

    I’m glad that Newsom shut the track down. Now let’s get rid of this cruel and lethal vehicle for gambling once and for all.

  5. This is good news. But what we really need is horse racing to be ended entirely. As long as horses are forced to race, horses will continue to suffer.

  6. Paula Renee says:

    Horse racing should be relegated to the history books.

  7. I’m not surprised about all the dead horses. I used to bet on horse races, but my feelings about horse racing changed when I learned about all the steroids and injuries and deaths in horse racing. There’s nothing “sporting” about a pastime in which animals routinely suffer and die.