California reports racehorse fatalities rose 5% for 2011-2012

Cross-posted from Daily Racing Form


A racehorse steps onto the track during training. Image by Clarence Alford.
A racehorse steps onto the track for training. Image by Clarence Alford.

Equine fatalities rose by 5 percent at California racetracks for a 12-month period ending last June, with a significant rise in training deaths at Santa Anita.

The data was released on Friday by the California Horse Racing Board as part of an annual review of racing in the state. The review covered racing for the fiscal year from July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012.

In the 2011-12 fiscal year, there were 278 horses euthanized in California as a result of injuries during racing and training, or deaths attributed to a wide array of illnesses, including colic, and respiratory and neurological diseases, the report stated. Of those 278, 207 were euthanized as a result of injuries from racing and training, while 71 were classified as having died from illnesses.

For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011, there were 265 horses euthanized in California – 186 from racing and training injuries and 79 that died from illness. By further comparison, there were 287 fatalities in the 2009-10 fiscal year – 220 from racing and training injuries and 67 that died from illness.

Santa Anita had the sharpest increase in fatalities attributed to racing and training, from 30 in the 2010-11 fiscal year to 59 in 2011-12. The racing board reported that there were 18 racing and 12 training fatalities on dirt and turf in the 2010-11 fiscal year at Santa Anita, compared to 17 racing and 42 training the following year.

Santa Anita’s main track was not open for training for much of the fall of 2010, while undergoing a transformation from a synthetic track to a conventional dirt track. Santa Anita’s conventional dirt track opened for training in December, 2010. In the preceding months, many stables relocated to Hollywood Park, while training at Santa Anita was restricted to the infield training track.

Among the state’s leading tracks for the 2011-12 fiscal year, Del Mar had four more fatalities in racing and training than the previous year, from 8 to 12; Fairplex Park had a decline from 6 to 2; Hollywood Park had a decline from 42 to 36; Golden Gate showed an increase from 37 to 38; and Los Alamitos had a decline from 37 to 35.


4 thoughts on “California reports racehorse fatalities rose 5% for 2011-2012”

    1. I agree Jane. on drugs, 100%. But I also think that switching back to a dirt track at SA for faster times to suit the likes of Bob Baffert may have something to do with it too. You are the resident expert. What do you say?


      1. Agree about the dirt. It sounds like they tailored it to Baffert’s preference as in compacted, hard and fast.

        Drugs + grueling track surfaces and design + races based only on speed together with the overabundant use of corticosteroid joint injections (along with all the bute, fluxinin, etc, etc.) can only spell disaster.

        The industry in North America seriously needs a complete overhaul – not just race day medication rules and regulations but for all the cruel and unnecessary practices used to keep these horses racing at all any any cost.


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