After much anticipation, the California Horse Racing Board decided not to reallocate race dates from Santa Anita Park at a board meeting Thursday afternoon.
“My view is that racing since Santa Anita has reopened has been really good, there have been no accidents. Personally, I see no reason to move the race dates,” said CHRB chairman Chuck Winner. “There is no action. We wish you to continue a good and safe meet.”
The Board did advance a number of proposals related to equine safety. One rule amendment will require trainers to maintain treatment records for medications and medical therapies provided to horses in California for inspection upon request of the Board. That proposal encountered some questions from the public about how it would work, and officials clarified trainers would be responsible for maintaining these records on horses located on CHRB premises, during the time they are housed there. This means a trainer who plans to ship a horse in from out of state could not be required to gather or maintain such records until the horse physically arrives at a CHRB facility.
The list of procedures a trainer should keep a record of should include therapies which are considered “veterinary procedures” by the state's veterinary board, including chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture and other similar treatments. Board members did not believe this record-keeping would pose a substantial burden on trainers, who are already keeping track of the dates of such procedures for billing purposes anyway.
Among other rules advanced, the CHRB approved a rule to require a postmortem examination review of all equine fatalities on CHRB properties. Necropsies are already required by law, and have been for some 20 years now, but previously the process of reviewing necropsy results with trainers and connections was not a requirement.
The adjustment made a few weeks ago pushing out the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories farther from race time will also be continued for 12 months. CHRB equine medical director Dr. Rick Arthur said there have been no medication violations with the new restriction since it was passed in late March.
The Board also approved threshold limits for the presence of drugs in samples taken following timed workouts. Arthur said the CHRB began screening horses after the March meeting, and had no samples in violation of the proposed thresholds in 60 tests through April 7 until this morning, when he received notification of the first violation.
California also added its voice to that of other jurisdictions and industry organizations calling for a ban on off-label use of bisphosphonates.
All proposed additions and amendments now go out for a 45-day public comment period, during which the Board will collect responses to the proposals and consider those before voting on the items again. A second approval would send them to the California Office of Administrative Law for review.
The public comment period of the board meeting, which stretched well over an hour, was dominated by animal rights activists who repeatedly called for an end to racing at Santa Anita — and across the country. Board members tangled with some commenters, questioning their perceptions of the sport's commitment to safety, anti-slaughter policies, and the belief by some that horses should not be used for sport or ridden but turned out in “sanctuaries.”
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