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NTRA supports legislation to ban slaughter of horses; CA governor calls for Santa Anita shut down

NKyTribune staff

The two moves were not directly related, but both speak to the increased criticism of the horse racing industry on several fronts.


The National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced Wednesday that it will support the passage of the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (H.R. 961).

The legislation would prevent the horse slaughter industry from reestablishing operations in the United States and prohibit the export of American horses abroad for slaughter. The action was taken at the regularly scheduled meeting of the NTRA Board of Directors held in New York on June 6.

“The slaughter of horses for human consumption is something the NTRA has opposed for many years,” said NTRA President and CEO Alex Waldrop. “In the last decade alone, thousands of retired U.S. racehorses have been adopted and transitioned to second careers. The development and growth of quality racehorse aftercare programs continue to be a high priority for the industry.”

The NTRA, based in Lexington, is a broad-based coalition of more than 100 horse racing interests and thousands of individual stakeholders. 

California governor calls for CHRB to close Santa Anita

The NTRA announcement comes as the industry faces increasing criticism following the deaths of 29 horses in recent months, in races or in training, at Santa Anita Race Course in Southern California.


Additional attention was shone on that issue and on the practice of horses being sold for slaughter in a segment of HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” entitled “Raced to Death.” 

Santa Anita, which is owned by the Stronach Group, denied a June 9 request by the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) to cancel the last six days of its current race meet.

That prompted California Governor Gavin Newsom to call on the CHRB to shut Santa Anita Down.

An excerpt from Newsom’s statement: 

“I continue to be troubled by the horse deaths at Santa Anita Park. Enough is enough. I am calling on the California Horse Racing Board to ensure that no horse races until they are examined by independent veterinarians and found fit to compete. As Santa Anita prepares to host the 2019 Breeders’ Cup in November, we must show the horse racing world that California puts safety first.”

Santa Anita shut down for several weeks in March, following the deaths of 21 horses. It reopened at the end of March, with changes to whip use and medications, but eight more horses have died since.

At this point, racing is expected to resume as scheduled at Santa Anita Friday, with an eight-race card.

The NTRA contributed information for this story

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