The legion of dedicated Hispanic workers on Santa Anita's backstretch will make their voices heard Thursday in an effort to counter attacks in the media that threaten their love and care of horses, their livelihood and their financial survival.
“The attacks against our jobs continue in the press and we must respond,” reads a flyer distributed to stable area workers. It goes on: “Our jobs are threatened if we don't respond. The public needs to know about the care and love we have for our horses. We also want to strengthen protections for our horses and our jobs.
“We are asking ALL stable area personnel, trainers and employees to gather in a display of unity before the media” on Thursday, June 20, 10:45 a.m. at Clockers' Corner.
Oscar de la Torre, spokesperson for the workers, will be on hand to facilitate the event and to coordinate media interviews.
“I've been working with the backstretch employees to tell their story,” said de la Torre, who was born and raised in Santa Monica and whose parents immigrated from Jalisco, Mexico.
“We understand that the closure of Santa Anita would be devastating to their livelihoods. People depend on the income they earn from their jobs here, and we also provide an onsite clinic for them and housing.
“We already have 59,000 homeless people in the city of Los Angeles. We don't want to contribute to that social problem. We want to make sure we protect the horses and the workers' livelihood. They are the individuals who make this industry what it is.
“It's very important to understand that people cannot work here if they do not love horses, and also that closure of Santa Anita or impairment to this industry also impairs the livelihood of workers who depend on it for their well-being.
“It would have more than an impact on the animals, but a human impact as well, which is why educating public officials is important and that hurting the industry hurts the individuals who have realized the American Dream.”
Santa Anita's current leading trainer, Doug O'Neill, has also been instrumental in helping to organize Thursday's event, as has CTT Executive Director Alan Balch.
“Our Hispanic employees are the hardest-working people back here and they're people who do all the work, yet haven't had a voice in any of this disaster,” said O'Neill. “This show of unity is just a baby step, but it gives them a chance to present the reality of what's going on. I'm excited that our hard-working employees will have a voice.”
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