03/05/2015 6:34PM

Horse fatalities decline at California tracks


ARCADIA, Calif. - Horse racing in California had across-the-board declines in handle, race days, starters, and number of races in 2014, according to an annual report published earlier this week by the California Horse Racing Board.

Equine fatalities at the state’s racetracks declined 5 percent during the 2013-14 fiscal year ending June 30, 2014 compared with the previous fiscal year and were down 28 percent from the 2011-12 fiscal year.

Handle for all breeds at all venues was $3,306,870,697 in 2014, a drop of 2 percent from the 2013 figure of $3,372,289,649. The figures include Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, and Standardbred racing.

The racing board makes calendar year comparisons in handle and racing data. The 2014 handle figure showed an increase of 7 percent from the 2012 figure of $3,077,584,646.

There were 623 racing programs in 2014 compared with 666 in 2013, a decline of 6 percent. There was a similar decline of 7 percent in number of races, from 6,066 in 2013 to 5,635 in 2014.

In the 2013-14 fiscal year, there were 199 fatalities in racing and training for all breeds, including 52 at Santa Anita, 44 at Golden Gate Fields, and 40 at Los Alamitos.

The number of equine fatalities is unlikely to change in the current fiscal year, according to Rick Arthur, California Equine Medical Director.

Last summer at Del Mar, there were approximately 16 equine fatalities in racing and training on the turf course and Polytrack synthetic surface. In the first two weeks of the track’s summer meeting, there were several fatalities in turf races which led officials to suspend turf racing on two occasions to conduct maintenance. The turf course was aerated and extensively watered to soften conditions before racing resumed.

Those fatalities are not reflected in the fiscal year statistics published last week.

The Del Mar autumn meeting in November had no fatalities during racing and training, Arthur said.

“We’ve had some good meets and some not so good meets,” Arthur said.