California governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill Wednesday to give the California Horse Racing Board authority to suspend racing meet licenses in order to protect the safety of horses and jockeys if the CHRB deems there to be an issue.
The bill — named SB 469 in the California Senate — will allow the CHRB to take immediate action if they feel something untoward is going on. Before, they were limited in the scope of what they could enforce.
The action was taken in the aftermath of the deaths of 30 horses at Santa Anita during the track’s winter meet, which ended Sunday.
“Business as usual has resulted in too many horse deaths,” Newsom said in a statement announcing the bill’s passage. “I applaud the Legislature for taking action to expand the authority of the CHRB to cancel or move race meets when animal and human safety are at risk. This problem demands deeper partnership between the CHRB and track officials. I call on race tracks around the state to hold themselves to the higher screening standards recently adopted at Santa Anita. This model can save horses’ lives.”
This comes on top of new safety measures and a review group at Santa Anita that was imposed earlier this month.
The CHRB says since the five-person review panel was instituted, 38 horses were either denied entry or scratched due to health concerns.
Newsom also appointed Gregory Ferraro, the former director of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine Center for Equine Health, to the CHRB.