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The Latest: Board votes to limit whips after horse deaths

March 28, 2019
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Horses are led to paddocks past the Seabiscuit statue during workouts at Santa Anita Park, as members of the California Horse Racing Board weigh new safety and medication rules in the wake of 22 horse deaths during a meeting at the track in Arcadia, Calif., Thursday, March 28, 2019. The board is considering whether to ban the use of medication and whips on racing days. If approved, Santa Anita would become the first racetrack in the nation to impose such restrictions. (AP Photo/Amanda Lee Myers)

ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on a California Horse Racing Board meeting about new safety and medication rules following 22 horse deaths at Santa Anita Park (all times local):

1 p.m.

The California Horse Raising Board has voted to severely limit the use of whips on horses in racing statewide following the deaths of 22 horses at Santa Anita Park.

The board reached that decision Thursday at a passionate meeting in which representatives of jockeys argued that the whips were not connected to the horse deaths and that such a drastic change should be delayed for more study.

Board members soundly rejected that idea, saying they personally witnessed whips being overused on some of the horses that died at Santa Anita and that if horse racing is to survive, changes are necessary.

The board also is considering new medication rules.

The vote to limit whips now goes to a regulatory agency for a public comment period and will have to go before the board again before it can become state law.

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11:20 a.m.

The California Horse Racing Board has begun discussing new safety and medication rules in the wake of 22 horse deaths at Santa Anita Park.

Board Chairman Chuck Winner said at Thursday’s meeting that the board is “very concerned about the health and safety of the horses.”

He also says it’s important to remember the thousands of people are employed by California horse-racing, saying “they feed their families based on this industry.”

Santa Anita agreed to make the changes after the horses suffered fatal injuries at the track in less than three months, angering animal rights groups and prompting protests.

Racing has been suspended since March 5.

Boone McCanna, co-founder of a ranch that uses retired thoroughbreds for equine therapy for veterans and needy children, said during a public comment period that the horses are “bred to race and they love to race” and the industry should be allowed to flourish.

No one spoke in favor of not allowing Santa Anita to resume racing Friday.

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12:15 a.m.

The California Horse Racing Board is weighing new safety and medication rules in the wake of 22 horse deaths at Santa Anita.

The board is meeting Thursday at the track northeast of Los Angeles to consider whether to ban medication and whips on racing days, among other changes. If approved, Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields in Northern California would become the first racetracks in the nation to impose such restrictions.

Santa Anita agreed to make the changes after 22 horses suffered fatal injuries at the track in less than three months, angering animal rights groups and prompting protests.

Racing has been suspended since March 5 but is expected to resume Friday, pending the board’s votes.

Track owner Belinda Stronach says “the current system is broken” and that standards must be raised to modernize horse racing.