File photo from March 28, 2019 showing horses on the race track at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.AP Photo | Amanda Lee Myers
LOS ANGELES — Another horse fatality was reported at Santa Anita Park in California this week, marking the 27th death since late December at the track and bringing renewed calls for tougher regulation of the industry.
A 2-year-old colt, River Derby, suffered a catastrophic injury Wednesday during training at the track, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday. The horse was euthanized at an offsite clinic but the fatality is being treated as an on-track training death by the state’s horse racing regulator, the paper added.
Earlier this year, experts were brought in to investigate the track and examine its racing surfaces and other safety issues after 21 horses died in 10 weeks. California Gov. Gavin Newsom already has moved to tighten some rules to address concerns about animal welfare, but the fatalities continued. There are also rising calls for more action, including passage of state and federal legislation to further regulate the horse racing industry.
“I believe that racing at Santa Anita should be suspended until the cause or causes of these deaths can be fully investigated,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said in early April after the string of horse fatalities.
Feinstein supports legislation to address some animal welfare concerns. She reached out to the California horse racing regulator in April for their input on a pending bill in Congress, the Horse Racing Integrity Act of 2019.
In California, state Senate Bill 469 would give the California Horse Racing Board more authority to protect racing horses, including to suspend racing at tracks where unsafe conditions exist for horses or riders.
Last week, Newsom expressed his support for SB 469 and announced the state’s horse racing regulator initiated special investigations into all fatalities at Santa Anita this year.
“The recent horse facilities in California are unacceptable,” Newsom said last week. “We must hold the horse racing industry to account. If we can regulate horse race meets, we should have the authority to suspend licenses when animal or human welfare is at risk.”