NPR

23 Thoroughbred Deaths Force Santa Anita To Change. Will The Racing Industry Follow?

Horses and jockeys charge toward the finish of a race on Santa Anita Derby day. The Derby was the most prominent event on a schedule that included 11 horse races. Source: Tom Goldman

The famed horse racing track, Santa Anita Park, is up and running after being closed for much of last month following a spike in racehorse deaths. Since the end of December 2018, 23 thoroughbreds have died — mostly due to injuries from racing or training. The fatalities have forced the horse racing industry, and the public, to take a hard look at the sport and some of the issues that have been debated for years: Are the economics of horse racing taking priority over the animals' health and welfare? Should racehorses be medicated and, if so, how much?

In mid-March, U.S. lawmakers introduced aimed at improving horse-racing safety by requiring a uniform anti-doping and medication control program. Medicating thoroughbreds has been a long-running controversy in the U.S. — some medications mask symptoms which critics say can lead to catastrophic horse injuries. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles County District

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