Santa Anita Park will resume live Thoroughbred racing on Friday, March 29, under rules which modernize the sport of horse racing and provide the strongest medication regulations in the United States. Approval for a complete revision of the medication rules, which were agreed upon by The Stronach Group, parent company of Santa Anita, and the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC), was passed Thursday afternoon by the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) at their monthly meeting.
Additionally, the CHRB unanimously voted to approve an amendment that limits a jockey's cushion crop use as a corrective safety measure only, modernizing the centuries-old practice of striking a horse to make it run faster. As is California regulation, the rule must go out for a 45-day public comment period before it can be enacted by the Board. Jockeys racing at Santa Anita on Friday will do so under the current crop rules.
“Today was a watershed moment. We extend our thanks to the California Horse Racing Board for their swift and decisive action to evolve the great sport of horse racing not just for today, but to grow it for future generations,” said Belinda Stronach, Chairman and President of The Stronach Group. “We commend not only the CHRB and Chairman Chuck Winner, but all of our industry partners, including the TOC and the California Thoroughbred Trainers, for taking these unified steps to lead the nation for the health and safety of our equine and human athletes. TSG continues to be committed to the principles of safe horse racing and are proud to lead the way in California. We are looking forward to working with our stakeholders in other jurisdictions and expediting these reforms at all of our racetracks to put the horses first.”
Effective Friday, horses racing at the two tracks will do so with medication rules consistent with, or more restrictive than, the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities (IFHA) standards, which are the world's benchmark for equine safety and welfare. This means that horses will race with no race day medication with the exception of the diuretic Lasix, which will still be permitted, but at a maximum of 50% of the previous levels. Additionally, all horses born in or after 2018 that race at Santa Anita and Golden Gate will do so with no race day medication, including Lasix. This means all two-year-old horses starting in 2020 and after will be racing medication free.
Two weeks ago, Stronach published an Open Letter addressing the Future of Thoroughbred Racing in California calling for sweeping changes to modernize the sport and raise the standards of how racing and training is conducted. In addition to today's CHRB decisions, Santa Anita has implemented a number of enhanced protocols and procedures to help ensure racing and training safety and integrity. These include transparency of veterinary records, approval for workouts, and a commitment to purchase state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment to aid trainers and veterinarians in identifying pre-existing conditions before they become injuries. This also includes a continued commitment to engage independent racetrack surface experts to continually review both the dirt and turf courses for consistency, composition and compaction.
“Change is never easy,” said Tim Ritvo, COO of The Stronach Group. “There were a lot of people who came together in a very short period of time to make this happen. The horses are the one thing that unifies us all. We are looking forward to welcoming everyone back to Santa Anita tomorrow.”
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