Jon Baird

Dozens Sound off During Contentious California Horse Racing Board Meeting in Santa Anita

May 23, 2019 - 5:10 pm

(KNX 1070) - The California Horse Racing Board met at Santa Anita Thursday.

The track has been under intense scrutiny because of the death of 25 horses, two in just the past week. 

Dozens of people crowded into the meeting today to sound off.

Animal activists and those in the horse racing industry were passionate about their reasons. 

Animal activists asked the crowd "how many more horse deaths would it take for folks to realize horse racing is wrong." They say horse racing has to come to an end.

Those in the industry or are familiar with horse racing say the animals are well cared for and loved and they don’t want the horse racing industry shutdown.

Jackie Munnerlyn, who lives in Monrovia, was at the meeting.

She told KNX reporter Jon Baird she is an avid horse lover, owner and rider and she said she's worked on the backside for the many years.

She said the industry loves these animals and takes care of them. 

A senate bill could ultimately give the racing board the power to halt a racing meet immediately for the safety of the riders and the horses.  

Of the 25 horses which have died since December, nearly all were trained by different trainers.

Only a couple of trainers had a second horse end up dead.

About half of the 25 were actually race related, while most of the others died during timed workouts.

That after the track went through an unprecedented six week period of safety.

But according to the Equine Injury Database, the death rate at Santa Anita is 50 to 85 percent higher than the national average since 2016.

There was a hearing in Sacramento last night where the head of the group that runs Santa Anita, Belinda Stronach, spoke to lawmakers.

"When there is an injury on the track there is an immediate attention given to that horse and that not in all cases that horse is euthanized. We really do take a look 'can that horse be saved?'" she said.

The group has also instituted some changes here like banning the use of a whip, a riding crop.

Still, some believe that has nothing to do with the fatalities. And animal rights activists have been demanding action they’ll be attending the board meeting today too.

Jon Baird