Three horses have died within two weeks of the Del Mar Race Track opening for the summer season. On July 18, two horses, trained by Carla Gaines and Bob Baffert, died instantly in a training accident from broken necks, and the third horse, trained by Bob Baffert, was euthanized due to an injury to the right hind fetlock, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Last year, Del Mar was one of the safest tracks in the nation. This year, in over ten days with 82 races there had been no fatalities.
“We are aware of the unfortunate situation, but we will continue to make safety our first priority in the race meeting,” Mac McBride, DMTC’s director of media relations, said to the The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Horse fatalities due to horse racing have spiked. According to the New York Times, the Jockey Club’s Equine Injury Database, in 2018, stated that about 10 horses a week died at American racetracks, which is two and a half to five times greater than in other parts of the world.
Santa Anita Park became one of the deadliest race tracks last season when 30 horses died. These fatalities have received attention from the government and numerous animal rights activist groups.
Governor Gavin Newsom enacted new measures which require the California Horse Racing Board to ensure that every horse is independently examined by a veterinarian for fitness before racing, according to NBC News. Additionally, Dianne Feinstein has repeatedly called on Santa Anita to stop racing after the fatalities.
In response to the new measures, the Stronach Group (the track’s owner) and the horse racing board agreed that a team of stewards and veterinarians would assess each horse’s history to ensure that the horses are fit to run, according to NBC News.
In June, a conference was held by hundreds of Santa Anita backstretch workers including grooms and their families, according to the Los Angeles Times. At the conference, the workers voiced their concerns and how they feel invisible in this situation. They fear that if the track closes, they will lose their job. The workers and grooms work hard and take care of the horses whom they consider family.
“They’re like another child for us,” groom Dagoberto Lopez said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “They’re like humans. They just don’t talk.”
After 12 horses died in Maryland this year, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Vice President Kathy Guillerrmo urged Maryland to follow Santa Anita’s new regulations, according to CBS News.
Many animal rights activists groups believe horse racing should be banned or suspended. Groups such as PETA, Animal Aid and The Coalition For the Protection Of Racehorses have spoken out against horse racing.
Often behind the glamour of horse racing lies a world of drug abuse, injuries, break-downs, and often slaughter. About 10,000 “unprofitable” Thoroughbreds from the United States are sent to Mexico and Canada to be slaughtered every year, according to PETA.
“Dead horses will no longer be ignored by the public,” Guillerrmo said, according to CBS News.