The California car bans drugs after the number of deaths on horseback rises to 22


A southern California track made an unprecedented move in professional horse racing to ban drugs for the race after the 22nd horse died on December 26th.

The Santa Anita Park circuit made the announcement in an open letter published Thursday.

The decision comes more than a week after the track suspended the races in Santa Anita indefinitely after 21 horses were subjected to euthanasia after suffering injuries during training or track racing within two months.

"What has happened in Santa Anita in recent weeks is beyond the reach of the heart," said Belinda Stronach, president of The Stronach Group, owner of the track.

Princess Lili B, a 3-year racing race for her third career start, was euthanized at the Santa Anita circuit Thursday morning after breaking her front legs at the end of a half-mile workout, according to the Paulick Report, a horse racing news site.

David Bernstein, owner and trainer of Princess Lili B, told KTLA-TV in Los Angeles that the racehorse was healthy before the accident.

"He was always very healthy and we never had any problems with her," Bernstein said in an interview at the print station. "We didn't have to train her on any medication. She's just a nice filly around."

Stronach announced on Thursday a list of regulations changes on the slopes that could dramatically affect professional pilots and their horses in Santa Anita.

"We have come to a turning point," he added, before describing in detail a "complete revision" of the racetrack's drug policy and other regulations.

In addition to prohibiting the administration of drugs for running, Lasix, a drug that improves performance, is also prohibited on the track. According to, Lasix prevents a horse's lungs from bleeding spontaneously while running at high speeds. It is banned in other countries but commonly used with racing horses in the United States.

The Santa Anita track has also added the following regulations:

  • Increase the ban on legal therapeutic NSAIDs, joint injections, shock wave therapy and anabolic steroids.

  • Complete transparency of all veterinary records.

  • Significantly increasing out-of-competition tests.

  • Increase the time required for horses to be in place before a race.

  • A substantial investment by the Stronach Group in diagnostic equipment to help in the early diagnosis of pre-existing conditions.

  • Training horses are only allowed a therapeutic treatment with a qualified veterinary diagnosis.

Earlier this month, Santa Anita officials ordered further tests on the park's main one-mile trail after a 4-year-old filly was to be suppressed due to an injury while training on the track. The Stronach group has also completed ground-based radar tests on the runway, which they considered "ready for use at one hundred percent".

The nearly two dozen deaths on the track have ruined the reputation of a circuit that was once considered among the safest in the sport.

Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer of The Stronach Group, told The Associated Press that recent heavy rains in California may have affected the runway and horse health.

According to the park, 16 of the dead horses were injured during races or training on the Santa Anita dirt track. Five died after running on the track.

"We think so [rain] it could certainly contribute, even if our experts are not telling us, "said Ritvo at the AP." The tracks out here are not built for such a time. "


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