ARCADIA (CBSLA) — Horse deaths have put Santa Anita Park under a microscope, and now there’s growing concern from workers at the track.
A group of workers held a rally Thursday at the park with signs that read, “Horses are our lives,” among other messages in support of keeping the track open.
“I support the reforms taking place now,” said one worker. “We need them to protect our horses, our industry, our job and our lives.”
Animal rights advocates, along with California Sen. Dianne Feinstein and other politicians, have demanding racing stop until an investigation into the exact cause of deaths can be completed.
Racing at Santa Anita was temporarily suspended in February – following the 19th horse death — and again for most of March – following the 21st horse death — so experts could conduct testing on the park’s three tracks – the main, training and turf tracks — to try and pinpoint the issue. None of the horse deaths have occurred on the training track.
In mid-March, Santa Anita officials announced a series of new measures to help bolster the safety of horses at the track, including restrictions on certain medications, requiring trainers to get permission in advance before putting a horse through a workout and investing in diagnostic equipment to aid in the early detection of pre-existing conditions.
Also in April, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced the creation of a task force to investigate the deaths.
Earlier this month, California Governor Gavin Newsom called for a temporary halt to horse racing at Santa Anita in the wake of 29 horse deaths. A day later, new safety measures were announced Wednesday in the form of a new independent horse safety review team.
This Sunday marks the final day of the racing season at the park, though the track will be open until July for practice.