The Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) and The Stronach Group, which operates Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields reached a historic agreement on March 16th that will serve to protect the safety and welfare of horses and riders in the Golden State. This collective mandate enacts the most stringent medication policy in North America.
Santa Anita, Golden Gate and the TOC have agreed to the following initiatives for racing and training:
• Complete transparency of all veterinary records.
• Strict limitations on the use of any pain or anti-inflammatory medication and treatment, including legal therapeutic NSAIDS, joint injections, shock-wave therapy, and anabolic steroids.
• Trainers must apply for permission to work a horse (a timed, high-speed training exercise) at least 48 hours in advance.
• No therapeutic medications of treatments will be allowed without a qualified veterinary diagnosis from a state licensed veterinarian.
• Significant and strict Out-of-Competition Testing (OCT).
• Increasing the time required for horses to be on-site prior to a race.
• A substantial investment by The Stronach Group in diagnostic equipment to aid in the early detection of pre-existing conditions.
Santa Anita, Golden Gate and the TOC are also in alliance to change the use of the cushion crop (whip). This evolution of a centuries-old practice will only allow the use of the crop as a corrective safety measure. This new directive has already gone into effect during training hours.
All horses born in or after 2018 will race at Santa Anita and Golden Gate with no race- day medication, including the diuretic furosemide, commonly known as Lasix. This means all 2-year-old horses starting in 2020 and after will be racing medication free.
All horses born prior to 2018 will race at Santa Anita and Golden Gate with the same guidelines, however, following the recommendation of veterinary experts for the best interest of the health of the current horse population, Lasix will still be permitted but at a maximum of 50% of the current levels.
These updates are in addition to the previously announced commitment to the continued engagement of outside experts to regularly review the dirt, turf and synthetic courses to ensure the safest racing surfaces in the world.
Once this landmark agreement is approved by the California Horse Racing Board, Santa Anita and Golden Gate will race with these enhanced new safety and welfare protocols in place. Because state regulations require a 10-day approval process, Santa Anita is planning to return to racing on March 29th, one week prior to its biggest race of the season, the Santa Anita Derby.
The Daily Racing Blog will be keeping a close watch on the Santa Anita situation, but on Wednesday we’ll take our first look at the upcoming Louisiana Derby (G2) being run Saturday at The Fairgrounds. So be sure to stop back.