In April, ASPCA President and CEO Matt Bershadker wrote an open letter to the California Horse Racing Board calling for the suspension of all racing and training activity at Santa Anita Park until an exact cause of the alarming number of racehorse deaths could be pinpointed and addressed.
Despite that appeal, and the many others like it, the track chose not only to continue racing, but to host the Breeders’ Cup World Championships on November 1-2. This past weekend, the death toll of horses rose to 37 when four-year-old Mongolian Groom was euthanized after suffering a devasting injury toward the end of his race.
The death of a single horse is a tragedy—and now, in front of a worldwide audience, 37 equine athletes have died tragically at a single track in less than one year. This is an all-out crisis.
To date, the wave of horse deaths remains an unsolved mystery, and until a solution can be found the ASPCA implores Santa Anita management and the California Horse Racing Board to halt any further activity at the track to prevent any further tragedies.
Since last spring, major Thoroughbred industry groups have stepped forward to push for measures that will help ensure the welfare and safety of horses competing not only at Santa Anita but at racetracks across North America. We applaud those efforts. Further, we commend these industry groups for endorsing the Horseracing Integrity Act (H.R. 1754/S.1820), which would prohibit performance enhancing drugs on race day and establish a national oversight process for horse racing, and the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (H.R. 961/S. 2006) to end the slaughter of American horses for human consumption.
Industry groups and the animal welfare community are united in efforts to press for these reforms. The lives of these animals must be a top priority, and we are pleased to see industry support for these important pieces of legislation.
If you’d like to make a difference for horses, sign up for the ASPCA’s Horse Action Team and join other equine advocates in promoting and supporting horse-protection legislation. Learn more and sign up today!