Criminal Investigation Sought After 21 Horse Deaths at Santa Anita Racetrack

PETA Says District Attorney Must Look Into Trainers', Veterinarians' Use of Injury-Masking Drugs on Lame Horses

For Immediate Release:
March 13, 2019

David Perle 202-483-7382

Los Angeles – Waving signs proclaiming, “Horses Are Raced to Their Grave,” PETA supporters will rally outside District Attorney (DA) Jackie Lacey’s office this Thursday to demand that she stop passing off responsibility to the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB), that she request an immediate investigation by law-enforcement officers into the recent deaths of 21 horses at the Santa Anita racetrack, and that she pledge to prosecute any trainers or veterinarians whose actions violated California’s cruelty-to-animals law and caused any of the deaths. At PETA’s urging, the racetrack has suspended racing.

When:    Thursday, March 14, 12 noon

Where:    211 W. Temple St. (at the intersection with N. Broadway), Los Angeles

“If nearly two dozen human athletes died in one sports arena within just three months, that bloodbath would be the biggest scandal imaginable,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “It’s imperative that the DA request that law-enforcement investigate what’s going on at Santa Anita and that the DA throw the book at anyone responsible for driving these abused horses to an early grave.”

The protest follows a letter sent to Lacey earlier this month by PETA, after which she stated that the CHRB would investigate. Since cruelty to animals is a criminal matter and the board doesn’t investigate violations of the cruelty statute, PETA urges the DA to request that law enforcement investigate the nearly two dozen deaths and that any criminal violations uncovered be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. In the letter, PETA pointed out that thousands of necropsies of horses who sustained broken bones while racing or training show that, in 90 percent of cases, a preexisting injury was present at the site of the break. Drugs such as the powerful anti-inflammatory phenylbutazone (aka “bute”) are often administered to keep lame and unfit horses competing, and while such drugs themselves may be legal, racing injured animals likely violates state anti-cruelty laws.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, which is a supremacist worldview. The group’s initial request for an investigation is available upon request. For more information, please visit

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind