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New Del Mar Racetrack protocols aim to make sport safer and more humane

Posted at 5:01 PM, Jul 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-17 20:01:45-04

DEL MAR, Calif. (KGTV) - On the 80th Anniversary of Del Mar horse racing the industry is facing extra scrutiny over protecting the animals. This comes after 30 horses died at the Santa Anita Racetrack this past year.

One of the newest safety protocols is bringing on two monitoring veterinarians who are stationed at elevated observation points to oversee morning workouts. If the veterinarian is concerned about a horse, they can radio outriders policing the track to remove horses and have them undergo a follow-up examination for soundness.

"There's been a lot of concern over racehorse welfare and safety the past few months, it's something that Del Mar Thoroughbred Club has always been concerned about," said Dr. Alina Vale, one of the monitoring veterinarians.

But Vale says they're now even more cautious and vigilant, working to rebuild the California racehorse community.

"The more subtle signs that I'm looking for are horses that might have mild injuries that haven't been detected before, so we're trying to catch those mild injuries before they become major injuries," said Dr. Vale.

The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club also adopted new medication standards and can randomly select any horse for drug testing at any time.

Workout activity will also be monitored closely.

The number of horse deaths has dropped in recent years at Del Mar, with four in all of 2018.

Dr. Vale encourages people to come to the track during morning training to see the care that goes into horses outside of racing.