04/10/2013 3:44PM

Rat poison traces found in two horse necropsies


ARCADIA, Calif. – Two horses who died unexpectedly at California tracks in the last five months were found to have rat poison in their systems during necropsies, according to Dr. Rick Arthur, California’s equine medical director.

Arthur made a presentation on the number of sudden equine deaths at California racetracks on Wednesday at a California Horse Racing Board medication and track safety committee meeting. Arthur said that 20 sudden deaths were reported in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011 – 19 in 2011-12 and 17 in the current fiscal year through Tuesday.

Arthur said that the deaths of the two horses who had rat poison in their systems were attributed to internal hemorrhage. He said that foul play was not suspected and that the level of rat poison found was at “trace level.”

“I think if there was foul play, there would be more” positives, Arthur said in an interview after the hearing.

Arthur said that the rat poison found in the horses was not the same as the type used by California racetracks for pest control.

Arthur did not identify the stable or the horses in the cases of sudden deaths, which are categorized separately from horses euthanized as a result of leg or pelvis injuries suffered in a race or training.

Necropsies are conducted on all horses who die at California tracks.