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L.A. Animal Services Considers Motion Supporting Horse Racing Ban

ARCADIA (CBSLA) – In the wake of 30 horse racing deaths this past season at Santa Anita Park, the Los Angeles Board of Animal Services rejected a motion Tuesday which would have recommended that the city go on the record supporting a ban on all activities related to horse racing.

Commissioner Roger Wolfson, who recently encouraged the board to pass a motion supporting a ban on rodeos in the city, placed an item on the board's agenda described as "Opposition to Horse Racing in the State of California."

The motion failed by a margin of 2-1. Only three of the five board members were present for the vote. Wolfson signaled his intention to raise the motion again at a later meeting.

The motion was seeking to recommend that the L.A. City Council draw up an ordinance that would prohibit horse racing and off-track betting in the city of L.A.

Thirty horses died while racing or training at Santa Anita since their racing season began on Dec. 26. This is in addition to 36 horses which CBS2 learned died at the track during the 2018 season.

"This wasn't a political calculation," Wolfson told City News Service. "Look, 30 horses have died at Santa Anita; that's a nearby city. We're concerned about it."

A ban would not affect racing at Santa Anita, since it is located in the city of Arcadia.

The L.A. City Council has shown a willingness to take the lead on animal rights issues in recent years, including a ban on the use of bull hooks, a law prohibiting the display or renting out of elephants, snakes, tigers and other wild or exotic animals for many entertainment purposes, and a ban on the sale of animal fur that passed earlier this year and is slated to go into effect in early 2021.

The proposed ban on rodeos has yet to be reviewed by the city council.

The Santa Anita horse deaths led growing outrage from animal rights advocates and politicians as to why horse racing has been allowed to continue at the park.

In response to the outrage, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a Senate Bill in May which gives the California Horse Racing Board the authority to immediately suspend a track's horse racing license. Prior to that bill, the CHRB could only recommend that a track cancel races.

Racing at Santa Anita was temporarily suspended in February – following the 19th horse death — and again for most of March – following the 21st horse death — so experts could conduct testing on the park's three tracks – the main, training and turf tracks — to try and pinpoint the issue. None of the horse deaths have occurred on the training track.

In mid-March, Santa Anita officials announced a series of new measures to help bolster the safety of horses at the track, including restrictions on certain medications, requiring trainers to get permission in advance before putting a horse through a workout and investing in diagnostic equipment to aid in the early detection of pre-existing conditions.

Also in April, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced the creation of a task force to investigate the deaths.

Earlier this month, the Los Alamitos Race Track in Cypress was forced to cancel several days of racing due to a shortage of entries in the wake of the fallout from Santa Anita.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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