The California Horse Racing Board's search for reasons for the racing and training fatalities during Santa Anita Park's winter/spring meet is nearing completion and a comprehensive summary report of the findings will be issued in December that could provide prevention strategies to avoid similar equine injuries.
Dr. Alina Vale, a CHRB official veterinarian who holds a master's degree in Veterinary Forensic Medicine from the University of Florida, will be responsible for coordinating all of the information and drafting the report focusing on the nature of the injuries.
Dr. Vale has 10 years of equine veterinary experience involving racetrack practice, caring for racehorses at an equine hospital, regulatory work with various equestrian disciplines, and equine research at the University of California, Davis. She is a member of the Welfare and Public Policy Advisory Council for the American Association of Equine Practitioners and chairs the Equine Abuse and Neglect Subcommittee. She has previously investigated and written equine fatality reports for the American Endurance Ride Conference (long-distance, trail-riding events). More recently, Dr. Vale was one of the veterinarians who monitored training at the Del Mar meet.
While the CHRB requires necropsies on all horses that die at facilities within its jurisdiction, the unusual clustering of fatalities in January and February and into March prompted this more exhaustive examination into those deaths. Veterinary personal, safety stewards, and others involved in track safety have been accumulating and analyzing the information to come to an understanding of how each death occurred in order to identify any common characteristics or causes and develop strategies for preventing similar injuries in the future. This is the report that the CHRB will issue in December.
The report will include findings from the ongoing CHRB investigations, which are still underway. CHRB investigators have issued more than 120 subpoenas for records and are continuing to review all cases for any CHRB rule or criminal violations. If their investigations result in a complaint or complaints, the complaint(s) will be made public. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office has undertaken a parallel investigation.
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