In an emailed statement, the California Horse Racing Board said it "does not have the authority to suspend a race meet or remove race dates from a current race meet without the approval of the race track operator or without holding a public meeting with ten days public notice."
At the time Santa Anita suspended races in March, questions swirled about whether heavy Southern California rains and poor track conditions were causing the horse injuries and deaths. But other experts weren't so sure.
"There's no obvious answer. So every question is being asked: Is it the surface? Is it the horses that are running on the surface?" Rick Baedeker, executive director of the California Horse Racing Board, told NPR's All Things Considered in March.
"Racing has become more competitive over a period of time," Rick Arthur, equine medical director at the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, told NPR's Tom Goldman. "Horses are worked faster and there are fewer horses to fit the slots that are available. So there's more pressure on the horses to race more frequently."
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says that horses, with their massive frames supported by spindly legs, simply aren't built to withstand the rigors of training and racing. The organization notes that injuries such as strained tendons or hairline fractures can be difficult to diagnose before a horse is run again.
PETA has called for a nationwide suspension of racing until greater safety measures are put in place. "Trainers, owners, and veterinarians have recklessly controlled racing and imperiled horses for too long, and those days must come to an end," PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo said in a statement.
And while just a handful of race days remain this season, Santa Anita is set to host the prestigious Breeders' Cup in November. Amid the spate of horse deaths, according to the Los Angeles Times, the Breeders' Cup committee is considering moving the event to Churchill Downs in Kentucky.
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