Horse racing: Breeders’ Cup trainers confident in safety of Santa Anita
By Rory Carroll
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Leading trainers competing at next month’s Breeders’ Cup are confident that Santa Anita will be safe for their horses despite a surge of deaths at the famed Southern California racetrack since December.
Thirty four horses have perished at the Stronach Group-owned venue over the past 11 months with the latest being three-year-old gelding Satchel Paige on Saturday.
Santa Anita earlier this year hired a consultant to study the track surface and the California Horse Racing Board also investigated but the exact cause of the spate of fatalities remains unknown.
Asked by Reuters if he or any of the owners he works for were hesitant to compete at Santa Anita, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said “not really.”
“It was tough on everybody but I really feel that hasn’t even crossed any of my clients’ minds,” he said on a call with reporters on Wednesday.
“We changed some things here for the better. The surface — they are working on that.
“I think it was a wake-up moment for racing. We need to do a better job and I think trainers and everybody involved are being more conscientious than before,” said Baffert, a 15-time winner who has earned a total of $28.8 million at the annual, two-day event.
In light of the fatalities, the Stronach Group and state regulators have instituted reforms at the venue including placing strict limits on the use of any pain or anti-inflammatory medication and treatment, which can mask injuries.
Whips will still be permitted at this year’s Breeders’ Cup although a whipping ban has been proposed by the California Racing Board.
“It has been concerning for sure watching from afar on the east coast,” trainer Chad Brown said.
“I’ve been keeping a close eye on it… (but) ultimately I didn’t avoid running any horses at the Breeders’ Cup due to this issue.
“We feel confident in Santa Anita’s management that the track will be safe and I support everything they’ve been doing to try to improve the situation.”
Baffert said he believes the races, which are expected to draw protesters, will put horse racing and Santa Anita in a positive light.
“Everything is going to be good. We’re going to get some good, positive vibes out of this whole thing.”
Some $22 million in prize money will be up for grabs at the Breeders’ Cup world championships on Nov. 1-2.
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)
More Top Stories
The number of new coronavirus infections in mainland China fell below 2,000 on Tuesday for the first time since January, Chinese health officials said, although …read more
Scientists believe killer disease may have begun in research facility 300 yards from Wuhan wet fish marketread more
Bloomberg’s comments in 2014 came more than a year after the first disclosures of documents by NSA contractor Edward Snowden, but before a federal appeals …read more
“You wouldn’t think you’d go to jail over medical bills”: County in rural Kansas is jailing people over unpaid medical debtread more
Apple Inc said on Monday that it will not meet its revenue guidance for the March quarter due to the coronavirus outbreak affecting both production …read more
More than 300 Americans who had been stuck on a cruise ship affected by the coronavirus were back in the United States on Monday, flown …read more