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Tensions Run High At California Horse Racing Board Meeting

ARCADIA (CBSLA) -- Tensions ran high at a meeting of the California Racing Board.

Animal advocates are angry about the more than two dozen horses euthanized at Santa Anita following injury or illness.

CBS2/KCAL9's Greg Mills said the meeting between activists, the board and race track officials and employees got emotional and heated.

"There was more drama at the meeting than at most horse races," Mills reported. "Emotional might be an understatement."

"Cause all I see here is a bunch of single women. Single women criticizing what we do here," said a jockey.

He was escorted out.

"Lies," said an animal advocate, "All they care about is money."

She was escorted out.

Between the two, a lot of passion from both sides during a public forum.

"Keeping this track open knowing that horses are going to continue to die is pre-meditated murder," said another advocate.

A track veterinarian thought that was a bit strong.

"That hurts. We are doing the best we can," said veterinarian Karen Valco. She's been connected to the track for three decades.

"Lost one. And I wanted to cry," said horse trainer Ron McInally.

He's also a long-time employee. Those who work at the track and oversee regulations say changes have been made and there are more to come. Critics of the track, though, said it's not enough.

"Even if there is reform and less horses are killed, horse are still being killed," said animal activist Heather Wilson.

With the death toll climbing, Santa Anita was shut down to investigate the causes of the injuries.

Commissioner Chuck Winner expects SB 469 to pass in the state assembly. Passage of that bill would allow the commissioners to quickly shut down any track in the state because of health concerns to the horses and/or jockeys. Winner requested the legislation.

"The way it is now we can't do that. It takes a whole process," said Winner.

They're also limiting the use of the diuretic Lasix for horses.

Santa Anita officials say since the shut down in the winter, there have been close to 9,000 workouts and races and out of these, three horses have died.

They view that number as favorable -- critics simply do not.

"It needs to end," said Wilson, "this is an antiquated sport."

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