It was a deadly summer meet at Del Mar racetrack in Del Mar, California. Although the race meet lasted only seven weeks, 16 horses died or had to be euthanized at the track. While Del Mar officials talk about track surfaces and the California Horse Racing Board looks at necropsy reports, PETA is urging Del Mar and the board to obtain complete veterinary records for each deceased horse and make those records public.
It appears that no one is questioning the condition of the horses in the months leading up to their deaths. PETA’s game-changing 2013 investigation of trainer Steve Asmussen revealed that trainers often use legally allowed medications, including anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants, stimulants, and painkillers to ensure that horses who are sore or injured will continue to train and race. This is widely acknowledged by the racing industry to be the leading cause of breakdowns.
The high rate of breakdowns at Del Mar demands a thorough investigation of all factors, including an examination of all veterinary records and an evaluation of the conditions of the horses and the medications administered to them in at least the last year of their lives. If officials refuse to look into all the possible reasons why these horses died, it would seem to indicate an unwillingness to admit the enormity of the drug problem in horse racing, sentencing more horses to the same fate.