Santa Anita Park Cleared of Criminal Charges Regarding Horse Deaths

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The Santa Anita Park management is pleased to find out that they won’t be criminally charged for the deaths of more than three dozen horses in the previous year. The District Attorney in Los Angeles County, Jackie Lacey, announced on Thursday that the district attorney office would not lay any charges against the park.

A task force was commissioned by Jackie Lacey to investigate the horse deaths. There was insufficient evidence that would aid in pursuing an animal cruelty case against the Santa Anita Park. Some of the issues that were investigated by the task force involved finding out whether the park knowingly raced an injured horse or other illegal activities by the owners. There was also no evidence regarding complaints that track officials forced jockeys to race even when track and weather conditions were not favourable. The task force also could not find any evidence that trainers lost stalls for not participating in enough races. However, the task force said it would continue investigating despite not finding enough evidence of the park’s culpability.

Santa Anita Park

Owner of Santa Anita Park Thanks Jackie Lacey’s Office 

The Stroanch Group released a statement thanking Jackie Lacey’s office for the efforts it made in investigating the horse deaths. The report noted that the park is committed to achieving high levels of horse safety and health. The group further said that it would continue making efforts to promote horse and rider safety. The group was happy that the District Attorney found no signs of misconduct.

According to the report released by the task force, 56 horses died from July 2018 to November 2019 in the Arcadia track. The report also noted that many of the horses already had pre-existing conditions that may have been degenerative. The report also showed that the trainers, jockeys as well as the veterinarians did not identify any signs that the horses had these conditions.

When the deaths occurred, the Santa Anita Park assembled a five-person panel that conducted pre-race checks. The panel was supposed to ensure that horses are fit and ready for races; all five members of the panel had to agree for a horse to pass the evaluation. Despite implementing the panel, horse injuries and deaths have persisted.

Animal Welfare Groups Reacted Against the Santa Anita Horse Fatalities

The California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) released a statement agreeing with the results found by the District Attorney’s Office task force. The CHRB statement also noted that many of the recommendations of the report were either in the process of being implemented or were already in effect.

The Chairman of the CHRB, Gregory Ferraro, further noted in the statement that the racing board would suspend any races at a track if it deemed the action necessary. However, many Animal welfare groups were not entirely pleased with the task force report. Kitty Block, the president and CEO of Humane Society of the United States, also released told the media in a statement that Congress must pass the Horseracing Integrity Act, which would implement reforms that are needed in horseracing. However, PETA criticized Jackie Lacey for not laying charges against Santa Anita for animal abuse. The organization stated that any trainers that give their horses medication are fully aware of the ill-health of their horses.

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