Santa Anita’s Current Killing Season Is No Anomaly – It Averages 50 Dead Racehorses Annually, Almost 600 Dead Since 2007

In the wake of 23 dead horses since Christmas, Santa Anita cancelled racing yesterday and is closed indefinitely. But let’s identify this for what it is: marketing-101 damage-control, nothing more, nothing less. After being hammered in the media – practically every major outlet in the country has covered the killing – and after a big HW-sponsored protest there this past Sunday (with more to come), the suits of California Racing are scrambling. But to be clear, this move is not because they think the track (weather) is the culprit or that further “testing” (“Orono Biomechanical Surface Tester” – please) will do any good. Nor is it because they care about the deaths in and of themselves, for if they did, they would have shut down – permanently – long ago.

According to official CHRB statistics, in the 11-year period 7/1/07-6/30/18 Santa Anita averaged 50 dead racehorses annually. And it’s not as if one or two bad years skewed that average: Every 12-month period but one (’10-’11, when “only” 37 died) saw at least 40 corpses. What’s more, they can’t even claim they’re heading in the right direction as two of the three worst years were ’15-’16 and ’16-’17. Now, consider this comment by the board chairman kicking off the most recent annual report:

“The year 2018 was a good one for California racing in many ways, but the clear highlight was the progress we have made in reducing equine fatalities at racetracks and training facilities. Admittedly, even one death of a racehorse is too many, but it is a sign of progress that the industry is finding solutions to a problem that for far too long has perplexed all of us who care deeply about the safety and welfare of horses.”

As I’ve oft-written (Saratoga ’17, Del Mar ’16), this is not a multi-billion dollar industry for nothing. They’re quite adept at controlling the story, assuring an increasingly uneasy public (regarding animal exploitation in general) that they’re on top of this – that “even one death of a racehorse is too many.” Well, facts, as the great John Adams famously said, are stubborn things. And the facts here say, unequivocally, that the current killing season is no anomaly – no “blip on the radar,” as the CHRB’s Dr. Rick Arthur called it. Rather, it’s business as usual, here – and everywhere.

“Progress,” as imagined by the California Horse Racing Board:

2007-08 51 dead racehorses at Santa Anita Park
2008-09 41 dead racehorses at Santa Anita Park
2009-10 42 dead racehorses at Santa Anita Park
2010-11 37 dead racehorses at Santa Anita Park
2011-12 71 dead racehorses at Santa Anita Park
2012-13 43 dead racehorses at Santa Anita Park
2013-14 52 dead racehorses at Santa Anita Park
2014-15 46 dead racehorses at Santa Anita Park
2015-16 62 dead racehorses at Santa Anita Park
2016-17 64 dead racehorses at Santa Anita Park
2017-18 44 dead racehorses at Santa Anita Park
September 2018-March 2019 31 dead racehorses at Santa Anita Park

July 1, 2007-March 5, 2019 584 dead racehorses at Santa Anita Park

Horseracing kills horses. Always has. Always will. And that’s all you need to know.

24 Comments

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  1. Thanks to Patrick for the facts, and to all contributors on this blog, to all people who peacefully demonstrate because, collectively, we are making a difference in the fact of enormous wealth, power, and politicians.
    There’s a couple things that I would like to highlight since Patrick has mentioned on here many times before:
    1. This are ONLY the deaths from the track. These horrific DEATH LISTS and DEATH FACTS don’t include private training centers, most notably, the death trap known as San Luis Rey Downs. Keep in mind, that these are MINIMAL lists and many more are dying in total and complete anonymity just as this business likes it.
    2. Private training centers don’t have to report their deaths. Again non-transparency nor do they have any type of oversight on these private training centers, which is why procedures such as SWT are common daily occurences – a highly dangerous procedure that only exacerbates the other issues such as rampant doping.
    3. No necropsy, no investigation (as if that counts) is conducted on these training centers.
    4. The dying that the business classifies as “non-racing” not only happens in the stable areas, but often happens in the dark corners of farms where they are shipped-out out of the public eye and most die a miserable, suffering death with no vet attending to them. I can cite several direct examples that I witnessed.

    More to follow…….

    • We have seen and heard of such miserable deaths to stallions and broodmares of broken legs or simply left to starve!

  2. The Santa Anita racetrack should be closed forever, with that many horses dying something is very wrong and should be investigated. What are those people doing to those beautiful animals, they are obviously not what is best for the horses. I used to enjoy horse racing but after finding out about all the deaths each year I put racing in the same category as rodeos, they are both abusing the animals no matter what they say!

  3. “Investigations” conducted by apologists, supporters and/or people who derive a living from horse racing almost always leads to absolutely nothing.
    I used to think that it was actually possible to clean up this business, but it isn’t.
    I look back on my naivety and laugh because it seems so delusional to me now.
    The racehorse abuse, maiming, and dying is deeply ingrained into the mental attitudes of the very people they are in servitude to.
    Think about horse racing as a pit bull fighting ring with lots of people screaming, and betting as they watch the fighting dogs get maimed and killed.
    Horse racing is no different – only the victim is different.
    The other distinct difference is that pit bulls actually have legal protection under the law and people putting these fights on get Felony Animal Cruelty charges, but not in horse racing.
    Now if this analogy doesn’t tickle your fancy think about the Romanesque Gladiator-style animal fights in the ring where royalty would watch it for “entertainment” and there you have it.
    Horse racing is an antiquated business model that needs to end now.

  4. As a former owner I have unfortunately seen the worst. I would not know where to begin.The vets are drug dealers. The jockeys fix every race. The trainers are gamblers. The CHRB and Stewards are on the take.
    Sponges shoved up a horses nose. Drugs you wouldn’t give a human. Everything you could do to destroy an animals life is done. It’s all about the money.
    You want a solution: Race cockroaches. I guarantee people will bet.

    • Everything you say I saw, experienced, and know it to be true.
      They also drain your bank account while using you to fill races for them while denying you access to essential operating services (including stalls) while treating you like a piece of shit.
      The trainers who are in collusion with the HBPA get all the stalls, get all the services, and get the races written for them and get the owners sent to them.
      They have things pretty much wrapped up, and no small stable can beat them.
      If you think they are going to allow you to come in and screw up their bets – think again.
      This vile industry exploits just about everybody, but we have a choice – the racehorses don’t,
      Anyways, I could go on and on, but anybody who has been involved with this business knows exactly what I’m talking about.
      To anybody, including rich owners, who are still in this business – GET OUT NOW, please consider supporting a cause or charity that does something positive for animals/children, but stop supporting this vile business because it’s rotten to the core.
      It’s so not worth it, and it’s the poor racehorses that pay every step of the way.

  5. It doesn’t end at the track. Races of broken down sore horses are done on dirt roads and washes in California. Go to Hemet Ca. on a Saturday and watch the races, the drugs the deaths. While Santa Anita is being targeted Del Mar can be worse. Also, I would see trainers giving away horses to the Mexican grooms to go to Mexico as a….pet. Mexico is only 30 miles away and the last 2 weeks of racing, you will see van after van making the right turn onto the 5 Fwy to Mexico.

  6. After reading the following statement issued by the National HBPA I vomited because it literally made me sick:
    http://www.thoroughbreddailynews.com/statement-from-national-hbpa-on-racehorse-safety/

    The HBPA, the “horsemen’s group” are the root of all evil when it comes to racehorses and horse racing.
    They control BILLIONS of dollars in wagering signals to all tracks in North America via the Interstate Horse Wagering Act and pay little to no taxes while banging on politicians door for more taxpayers money.

    Anytime even the most minimal safety measures or reduction in race day doping tries to get passed, they are there to stop it and here’s just one example of many:
    https://classic.drf.com/news/new-kentucky-drug-rules-stopped-committee

    This has been going on for years, even back in 1978 they fought aggressively to not disclose medication records or any type of regulation that would have saved racehorse and jockeys lives.
    The late Rudy Turcotte tried to fight them through the Jockey’s Union when he almost died riding a horse that dropped in the dirt, but the HBPA fought against it and they use their ace card: we will stop all wagering signals if you don’t abide by us.
    They are pure evil and they are largely responsible for the current state of horse racing.

    They, more or less, dictate to owners like Frank Stronach and tracks to do what they say.
    They are legal gangsters in my opinion and nothing will ever change as long as they are around.

  7. And Mr.Ritvo what good will taking a step back and looking at everything do? Such rhetoric is meaningless.
    Racing will just wait it out and nothing will change.
    Horses will continue to be raced too young; horses will continue to be overworked; horses will continue to be drugged; horses will continue to be whipped when they are tiring and slowing to protect life and limb; horses will continue to die on the tracks in the stalls and elsewhere because racing, is and will continue to be, a corrupt cruel gambling business where money takes precedence over the safety of the horse. That will never change.

    • Oh Rose – haven’t you heard about the “new normal” – a statement released by Tim Ritvo?
      The “new normal” will be safety measures implemented at Santa Anita when they re-open for racing.
      Where was this “new normal” when racehorses were dropping dead in the dirt on their tracks for years?
      Like so many times before the “new normal” is a reaction to the rash of deaths, just to placate the public only this time they’ve taken it a step further only because of public pressure it seems.
      Of course I hope the “new normal” saves lives, but this is horse racing.
      Like Robin said on her Sports Illustrated show: ….”at this point it’s willful ignorance.”

  8. Any meaningful changes that were supposed to be implemented under the “new normal” when they return to racing on March 22, is already getting huge push back from the “horseman’s groups.”
    As for the doping/vet records that were to be made transparent?
    The owner/trainers are citing that the records are private property and are demanding a “consultation” via a meeting with the CHRB.
    I’ve been to these pathetic “do nothing” meetings and all the trainers show up with their HBPA representatives and vote down any type of meaningful change for the racehorse.
    It was frustrating and disgusting, and that’s when I knew nothing would change, and nothing will because racehorses will continue to die for this vile business.
    I hope that California residents who oppose horse racing go to these meeting because it’s open to the public.
    The racehorses need our voices there so badly.
    They are now blaming the weather their old true and tried excuse, back to the weather yet again.
    The Stronach Group, along with all other tracks/training centers, facilitate the massive suffering and dying of racehorses and they will be shut down.
    It’s just a matter of time.

    • Of course it’s the weather – a cause that is beyond control !! But why was racing allowed to continue on such a “dangerous” track as the dead horses continued to pile up ?!
      As per SOP, that question will never be answered. There is no accountability because none is demanded.
      And what a stroke of luck to have the “bad weather” to blame!!

      • http://www.chrb.ca.gov/meeting_schedule_2019.html

        This is their schedule, but I would highly advise anybody to directly call the CHRB office and confirm when the next meeting is which is supposed to be March 21.
        Contact the CHRB directly and make sure you get on their “Meeting email list” because they will sometimes change the schedule or the meeting place to confuse the public, and knowing what’s going on now that’s highly possible.
        They hold the meetings all over California, but they are supposed to hold the meetings on the track during the track meet to address the issues going on which would be Santa Anita.
        Since Frank Stronach and his cohorts, dictate to the taxpayer-funded CHRB, more or less, they’ve probably already demanded that no meetings are held on their grounds – I wouldn’t put it past them.

        The public has a right to be there despite their deliberate efforts to say otherwise because what ends up happening is all of the trainers and the HBPA (horseman’s representatives) show up and they regularly obliterate any type of rule/suggestion that is in favour of the racehorse.
        California taxpayers pay for these meetings, pay for all CHRB staff including the apologist Rick Arthur and they often pay for the high priced track analysis conducted by Petersen.
        The Stronach Group can request additional vets via the CHRB and that’s paid for by taxpayers as well unless TSG has agreed to pay for their own, but that just further indicates people who are not neutral.
        You can demand to know whose paying for these things as a California resident?
        You can demand billing records which is public information.
        I attended all the meetings at Del Mar and even back then lots of racehorses were dying and nobody, not anybody from either the animal rights/advocates, horse lovers, or public ever showed up at these meetings.
        For example, there was a plethora of vet studies that showed that TOE GRABS were a huge contributor to breakdowns, and it took years to get them banned because Bob Baffert and some other trainers used them all the time.
        Bob Baffert rarely showed up to these meetings, but had his voice heard through either attorneys, the HBPA or he would just call his buddy Rick Arthur, and eventually Bo Derek to completely alter the decisions on the CHRB board it seems – unbelievable!

        Please folks, anybody, please go to these meetings, be a voice for the racehorses, bring pamphlets, arm yourself with FACTS because Rick Arthur has always demonstrated that he’s on the side of the tracks, at least that’s what I continually saw, and he will counter you with facts.
        Bring the DEATH FACTS the DEATH LISTS from this site that is indisputable.

        Step up to that microphone, it’s usually an open microphone or sometimes they do it informally where you stand up and speak.
        Don’t let them drown you out which is usually the tactic of the trainers HBPA – they will keep talking over the microphone, they will monopolize the microphone anytime somebody shows up to be a voice for the horses.

        It’s about time the racehorses have a voice represented at these meetings.

      • Another thing, the meetings are supposed to be held in “accessible areas to the public,” but they would sometimes hold them on the track grounds, behind the stable gate area where they wouldn’t permit anybody to enter without a stable area pass – that would be all the apologists and supporters.
        Or in an obscure building where nobody would even think to go there for a public meeting or even find it.
        Sometimes the venue would change about 1 hour out of a meeting for whatever reason – you be the judge.
        I notice this especially when lots of racehorses were dying and Del Mar controlled the message.
        All the meetings produce minutes so if you ask the right questions and they evade or lie then there can be serious repercussions for that – “who paid for track guru Petersen to conduct the analysis at Santa Anita?”
        “How many horses died at Frank Stronach owned San Luis Rey Downs?”
        The California Horse Racing Board, is supposed to reflect a broad range of California residents.
        Instead,the CHRB and all respective horse racing supporter boards are a fully-stacked deck in favour of the horse racing industry as it all consists of apologists, supporters, and participators.
        Anytime a vacancy comes up the new person is announced before they even give a chance for any neutral organizations to go on the board.
        It’s time for our “new normal,” and Tim Ritvo we are going to show you what our “new normal” is.
        You’ve been making billions off of racehorse bones, soft tissues, and lives for way too long now with zippo accountability, and you give little to nothing to aftercare after they are done filling races for you.
        I can assure you – the racehorses voices will be heard not you profit slave masters.
        Welcome to the “new normal” Belinda and Frank Stronach, Tim Ritvo, and all the apologists.

  9. Patrick, my sincere thanks for all of your hard work, dedication, and for providing a forum for people like me.
    I apologize for my long posts because sometimes they go off-course, but all the topics lead to one fact:
    RACEHORSES ARE DYING DAILY FOR $2 BETS.
    Patrick, can I please order a sweatshirt and a t-shirt with the summer coming?
    Please let me know how I can do this?
    I want to order one this Friday to support peaceful demonstrations in California.

    • Gina we always appreciate your posts of any length as many times they help us remember past experiences we have seen and can relate them to others on this site.We are glad the Patrick is making the facts known as to what is occurring in racing of horses.

  10. I cannot imagine the horror of witnessing the callous treatment of this amazing species that is a friend of man. I am grateful, I cannot describe, for your patience with us who did not know what you know. It breaks my heart to consider the terror suffered by the equines. I have to say, had a glimpse once that to this day marks my awakening. But that was years ago. To read these records makes me feel shame and betrayed by the these lying scheming brutes. .

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