06/23/2017 11:44AM

Team of inspecting veterinarians beefed up for Del Mar meet

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ARCADIA, Calif. – The California Horse Racing Board will expand the team of veterinarians conducting prerace examinations to include a wider range of inspections during the Del Mar summer meeting that begins July 19.

At Thursday’s racing board meeting, executive director Rick Baedeker said that “up to four official” vets would be working during the meeting. The larger team will be used after a rash of racing and training fatalities at Del Mar last summer and fall. Baedeker said the primary task of the veterinarians will be to “identify horses at risk of injury.”

“Everyone has the welfare and safety of the horse at the top of their priority list,” Baedeker said.

Baedeker said the inspections will scrutinize runners returning from layoffs and 4-year-olds who have never started. Horses who have been placed on the veterinarian’s list for a variety of ailments will also undergo closer inspections.

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In addition, Baedeker said vets will place a great emphasis on watching workouts and morning training to monitor horses. He called on horsemen and backstretch employees, including jockeys and exercise riders, to be more vocal in reporting the health and welfare of runners.

“I think everyone would agree preventing at-risk horses from running is not just the responsibility of the board and Del Mar management,” Baedeker said.

Rick Arthur, California’s equine medical director, said on Friday that veterinarians will expand their duties to include inspections on non-racing days and in the days before and after a horse has raced. Arthur said three examining vets will be active in the stable area on “most days,” conducting inspections, out-of-competition testing, and observing workouts.

“There’s plenty for us to do,” he said.