Santa Anita Park: Safest Racetrack in North America
The recently concluded Winter/Spring Meet at Santa Anita Park has marked a significant milestone for the iconic racetrack, establishing itself as the safest racetrack in North America among its large-track counterparts. Despite its troubled history with racing fatalities, Santa Anita Park displayed an impressive 62.5% improvement compared to the previous season, with only three racing fatalities out of more than 4,800 starters during the 76-day meet.
A Record-Breaking Season
For a racetrack that had endured a nightmarish season just four years ago, with 30 horses tragically losing their lives during racing or training, this achievement is truly remarkable. What makes this safety record even more noteworthy is that it includes training fatalities as well. As one of the largest training facilities in the country, Santa Anita Park hosts over 375,000 training sessions per year, making it a crucial aspect of its operations. Unfortunately, eight training fatalities occurred during this season.
A Unity in Prioritizing Horse Safety
The positive safety results are a testament to the collective efforts of the entire racing community. Nate Newby, Santa Anita’s senior vice president and general manager, acknowledged the commitment and dedication of various stakeholders, including owners, trainers, jockeys, veterinarians, and the hardworking individuals caring for the horses on a daily basis. Among these unsung heroes are the Santa Anita Park track crew, led by the experienced superintendent Dennis Moore, whose relentless efforts played a crucial role in achieving this remarkable feat.
California: Setting the Trend for Safety
Santa Anita Park’s safety achievements reflect a larger trend in California’s racing industry. Since the harrowing spring of 2019, when the high number of fatalities shook the entire horse racing community, Santa Anita’s parent company, 1/ST Racing, joined forces with the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) and industry insiders to introduce comprehensive safety reforms. These reforms later influenced the passage of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, set to take effect on July 1.
The Impact of Reforms
The safety reforms implemented by Santa Anita and other stakeholders have been instrumental in improving the overall safety record. One significant reform was the restriction of medications, including the widely used diuretic Lasix, before most races. The use of joint injections, steroid treatments, and shock-wave therapies was also limited, prioritizing the well-being of the horses. Moreover, the CHRB implemented stricter regulations on the use of the crop, allowing just six strikes per race. Additional reforms empowered veterinarians to make decisions regarding horse safety, ensured better medical record tracking, and incorporated advanced imaging equipment to detect musculoskeletal injuries at an early stage.
Proactive Measures at Santa Anita
In addition to the industry-wide reforms, Santa Anita Park took additional proactive measures to enhance safety. One key decision was to limit the number of horses training simultaneously. Despite the extra effort required from stakeholders, the park’s veterinarians conducted over 3,700 examinations before horses started their training sessions at Santa Anita since December 1. This heightened scrutiny enabled close collaboration among all stakeholders, ensuring the best interest of the horses throughout their training process.
The conclusion of Santa Anita Park’s Winter/Spring Meet marks a significant milestone in the racetrack’s history, as it emerges as the safest racetrack in North America. With a notable reduction in racing and training fatalities, Santa Anita Park’s dedication to prioritizing horse welfare is commendable. Through industry-wide reforms and proactive measures, Santa Anita Park exemplifies a commitment to safety that sets an example for the entire horse racing community.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How does Santa Anita Park’s safety record compare to previous seasons?
The recently concluded Winter/Spring Meet at Santa Anita Park showcased the safest season on record for the iconic racetrack. By achieving a 62.5% improvement compared to the previous season, Santa Anita Park has significantly enhanced its safety measures and minimized racing and training fatalities.
2. What reforms were implemented by Santa Anita and the racing industry to improve safety?
Santa Anita Park, along with 1/ST Racing and the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB), undertook various safety reforms to ensure horse welfare. These reforms included restricting the use of medications, limiting joint injections and steroid treatments, implementing stricter regulations on the use of the crop, empowering veterinarians to make safety-related decisions, improving medical record tracking, and introducing advanced imaging equipment for early injury detection.
3. How did the collaboration among stakeholders contribute to the improved safety record?
The collective efforts of owners, trainers, jockeys, veterinarians, and the Santa Anita Park track crew were instrumental in achieving the improved safety record. Through collaboration and dedication, these stakeholders prioritized the safety and well-being of the horses, fostering a culture of responsibility and care within the horse racing industry.
4. What proactive measures did Santa Anita Park take to enhance safety?
In addition to industry-wide reforms, Santa Anita Park introduced measures specific to its operations. One such measure was limiting the number of horses training simultaneously. This allowed for increased scrutiny and examinations conducted by park veterinarians, ensuring the optimal conditions for horse training and minimizing the risk of injuries.
5. How does Santa Anita Park’s safety achievements impact the horse racing community as a whole?
Santa Anita Park’s exceptional safety achievements serve as a beacon of hope and inspiration for the entire horse racing community. The notable reduction in fatalities and the successful implementation of reforms demonstrate that prioritizing horse welfare is both possible and essential. By setting an example of best practices, Santa Anita Park encourages other racetracks and industry stakeholders to adopt similar measures to ensure the safety and well-being of horses across the sport.