The Los Alamitos Race Course has the state’s worst rate for horse injuries and breakdowns and is fifth worst in the nation, according to an investigative report by the New York Times published Saturday.
According to the newspaper, California topped the nation with 635 horses dying while racing or training between 2009 and 2011, and Los Alamitos has 10.8 horse breakdowns for every 1,000 starts – more than twice the national average. The injuries are commonly deadly for the horses and can lead to serious or fatal injuries for the jockeys.
The New York Times found the lack of regulatory oversight and drug abuse at the heart of the problem. The widespread use of performance enhancing drugs and painkillers often mask existing injuries, so that horses can be raced to the brink for a shot at winning one more purse, the paper found.
According to the paper,
In California, where necropsies are required, researchers found that a "large majority" of horses had existing problems at the site of their fatal injuries…A state-by-state survey by The Times shows that about 3,600 horses died racing or training at state-regulated tracks over the last three years…."It’s hard to justify how many horses we go through," said Dr. Rick Arthur, the equine medical director for the California Racing Board. "In humans you never see someone snap their leg off running in the Olympics. But you see it in horse racing."