US horse deaths trigger safety review call

Horse racing at one of America's most prominent tracks has reached a crisis point.
The Santa Anita track, on the outskirts of Los Angeles, has spent much of the year under heavy criticism with a staggering 29 horses dying at the track since Boxing Day.
'Enough is enough', California governor Gavin Newsom said.
'I am calling on the California Horse Racing Board to ensure that no horse races until they are examined by independent veterinarians and are found fit to compete.'
The unusually high fatality rate lead to the closure of the track in March, with the promise of improvements to the facility and procedures.
But deaths have continued and apart from the location it is difficult to link the deaths.
Earlier this week the California Horse Racing Board pushed for the remainder of the racing season to be shut down, but Santa Anita's owners and trainers remain defiant.
'We are collectively working on behalf of everyone in the sport — grooms, hot walkers, jockeys, exercise riders, starters, trainers, owners, track managers and every horse wearing a bridle and a saddle — to reform and improve racing every day', track owners The Stronarch Group said in a statement.
'Santa Anita Park will stay open.'

Instead, the owners have implemented a new five person inspection panel that will examine each horse before it races.
If any member of the inspection panel objects, the horse will be scratched.
'This is unprecedented in American horse racing', Californian Horse Racing Board member Alexis Podesta said.
The deaths have sparked increased protests from animal activists groups mirroring the outrage in Australia that accompanies the Spring Carnival.
Yesterday in Victoria's upper house, Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick called for the end to jumps racing in the state.
'We still do some terrible things to animals that other states have been bold enough to end', Mr Meddick said.
'Jumps racing has killed 93 horses in the last 12 years.
'How much longer will the Minister allow horses to die in the name of a so called sport?'
In California, outrage over the sheer number of deaths has been tempered by the variety of causes behind the fatalities.

Original concerns over the track's surface following heavier than usual rains have been replaced by a focus of handling and training techniques.  
Whips, drugs and medication are among the latest factors to be examined.
But the mystery remains.
The spring racing season will finish here next week – it will buy owners and trainers some reprieve.
But a major carnival is scheduled for the track in November, and more deaths would be catastrophic for the industry.
'As Santa Anita prepares to host the 2019 Breeders' Cup in November, we must show the horse racing world that California puts safety first', Governor Newsom said.
© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2019
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