California Governor steps in to protect racehorses

California Governor Gavin Newsom
California Governor Gavin Newsom. Image: LA Times

California Governor Gavin Newsom Thursday announced his support for SB 469, which would authorize the California Horse Racing Board to suspend horse racing licenses to protect the health and safety of horses and riders, reports the Pasadena Star-News:

“The recent horse fatalities in California are unacceptable,” Newsom said in a statement. “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.”

Additionally the Governor announced his administration has taken substantive regulatory actions through the horse racing board in response to the recent horse deaths in the state. The board has:

  • Initiated special investigations into all fatalities at Santa Anita this year. Investigations are being conducted by a team of sworn CHRB investigators, an official veterinarian and a safety steward.
  • Suspended authorization of 11 previously lawful corticosteroids and anti-inflammatory medications from being present in race horses on race day at all tracks in California. This will prevent the masking-effect such medications can have in hiding a horse’s existing injuries from examining veterinarians on race day.
  • Increased official veterinarian, safety steward and investigator staffing at Santa Anita.
  • Proposed five regulatory packages to:
    1. Eliminate use of the riding crop in racing, except in cases of emergency.
    2. Require trainers maintain records of all veterinary medications, treatments and procedures performed on a horse in their care (for purposes of CHRB inspections).
    3. Make the board’s existing Postmortem Examination Review a mandatory requirement for all trainers who have a horse die in their care. This is currently a voluntary program.
    4. Prohibit use of bisphosphonates, which is a class of drug that prevents loss of bone density.
    5. Restrict the amount of anti-inflammatory medications that may be present in a horse’s body when working out at a CHRB-licensed facility.

We thank California Governor Gavin Newsom for forcing the California Horse Racing Board to take these much needed steps to begin protecting the racehorse from injury and death. It is a valiant step forward that never would have happened if the Governor had not intervened, and for that we applaud him, states Vivian Farrell, founding President of The Horse Fund.

A new regulation going into effect July 1 will greatly expand out-of-competition testing and provide a means for the board to prosecute offenders who abuse prescribed medications.


For Californians

The Horse Fund calls on Californians to support SB 469. Find your California legislator here »

California has updated its legislative website »

Visit this link to see the latest markup of SB 469 »

Visit The Horse Fund website »

Related Reading

LAist names the 26 horses who died at Santa Anita since December »
26th horse death at Santa Anita track prompts calls for a halt to racing »
The slow and merciless death of American horse racing »

4 thoughts on “California Governor steps in to protect racehorses”

  1. Vivian, Governor Newsom stepped in to continue horse racing under the guise of health and safety when we all know that RACING KILLS horses. If you read the current, existing horse racing law in California, the California Horse Racing Board could have stopped the deaths from happening after the 19th horse but they did not. Under SB 469 that will pass soon in California, the Board will have the authority to call an emergency meeting AFTER the death and destruction of horses has already taken place. By this time, IT IS TOO LATE! The Board has always had the authority with a 48-hour special meeting notice to suspend a meeting (ie racing at a particular track).. Because of the pressure of thoughtful and committed citizens in California who protested week after week after week – who spoke week after week after week at Board meetings – who spoke to the media week after week after week – is why Governor Newsom surfaced in an effort to save the “blood sport” that funds his state billions of dollars. This is what Governor Newsome stepped in to protect. – April C. Montgomery, Esq., Animal Rights Advocate to BAN all horse racing in California.


    1. I wish we could say it’s a good start. But we know the problems run much deeper. The horses will keep dying.

      I thought it would be a good idea to close the track but it would only have been temporary. They need to shut it down for good. All of it. Someone predicted that someday they will only run the Triple Crown races and the Breeders Cup.

      A lot of what’s been going on is the fact that Santa Anita are scheduled to host the Breeders Cup. But they’ll come no matter how many horses SA kills because of the millions they could win. Monumental greed and ego.

      And this issue is not just about Santa Anita. It’s about all horse racing in America.

      Liked by 1 person

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