Horse racing: Illegal meds not a factor in horse deaths at Santa Anita: report

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Illegal medications did not play a part in the deaths of 23 racehorses at Santa Anita Park but 39% of the fatalities were on track surfaces affected by wet weather, the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) said in a report on Tuesday.

The agency looked at the fatalities that occurred between Dec. 30 2018 and March 31 2019, which grabbed headlines and raised concern about the safety of horses competing at the famed Southern California track and the ethics of the sport.

The investigation, which was conducted by veterinarians, scientists and CHRB staff, found no evidence of any “animal welfare violations”.

That echoes the findings of a report by the Los Angeles County District Attorney last year, which found “no criminal animal cruelty” took place at Santa Anita.

Seven complaints will be filed by the CHRB alleging that the horses’ handlers failed to turn in daily reports and three complaints will be filed alleging some horses trained at Santa Anita without a proper license.

The CHRB report comes the day after U.S. prosecutors criminally charged 27 trainers, veterinarians, drug distributors and others in a wide-ranging scheme to drug horses and cheat bettors.

Earlier on Tuesday, the owner of Maximum Security, the colt that won last month’s $20 million Saudi Cup, the world’s richest horse race, fired trainer Jason Servis after he was indicted in the doping scheme.

Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by Ken Ferris

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