Santa Anita Park to host Breeders' Cup despite 30 horse deaths already in 2019

Despite 30 horse deaths in less than six months, Santa Anita track will still host the Breeders’ Cup in November.

The Breeders' Cup board of directors met on Thursday in Lexington, Kentucky, and unanimously decided to keep the two-day event in Arcadia, California.

This decision comes just one day after California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law that could immediately suspend horse-racing licenses. The bill was introduced because of the publicity surrounding the horse deaths at Santa Anita.

Santa Anita’s track had to be closed in March because of 22 horse deaths in its first two months, and there’s been plenty of discussion about how safety can be improved. The track implemented more stringent safety and medication rules, but that hasn't stopped more horses from dying.

Still, the Breeders’ Cup board of directors decided that enough changes had been made to keep the race at Santa Anita for a record 10th time.

“We’ve spent a lot of time watching these events and the number of safety reforms since the track reopened,” Breeders’ Cup president and CEO Craig Fravel said, via the Los Angeles Times. “We feel very comfortable and have been reassured that the track is performing very safely.”

Whether California might use its new powers to call off the event is a question for another day, but at the very least, there is plenty of pressure to make sure Santa Anita is safer than ever.

11 PHOTOS
Santa Anita Park racetrack
See Gallery
Santa Anita Park racetrack
FILE - In this Oct. 28, 2014, file photo, exercise riders and horses walk along the track during morning workouts for the Breeders' Cup races at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. A person with direct knowledge of the situation says a 21st horse has died at Santa Anita. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity Tuesday, March 5, 2019, because the fatality has not been announced publicly. A total of 21 horses have died since the racetrack's winter meet began on Dec. 26. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 29, 2014 file, photo, an outrider waits by the track as horses train for the Breeders' Cup horse races at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. A person with direct knowledge of the situation says a 21st horse has died at Santa Anita. The person spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity Tuesday, March 5, 2019 because the fatality has not been announced publicly. A total of 21 horses have died since the racetrack's winter meet began on Dec. 26. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
Animal-rights advocates protest beside the entrance gate, the deaths of 23 racehorses in the first three months of this year at the Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia,, California, on April 6, 2019. - Santa Anita Park averaged more than 55 horse deaths per year from 2008-18, according to data from the California Horse Racing Board, a total of 553 deaths in all, but this year's major rise in deaths is under investigation. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP) (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Animal-rights advocates protest beside the entrance gate, the deaths of 23 racehorses in the first three months of this year at the Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia,, California, on April 6, 2019. - Santa Anita Park averaged more than 55 horse deaths per year from 2008-18, according to data from the California Horse Racing Board, a total of 553 deaths in all, but this year's major rise in deaths is under investigation. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP) (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Animal-rights advocates protest the deaths of 23 racehorses in the first three months of this year beside the entrance gate of the Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia, California, on April 6, 2019. - Santa Anita Park averaged more than 55 horse deaths per year from 2008-18, according to data from the California Horse Racing Board, a total of 553 deaths in all, but this year's major rise in deaths is under investigation. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP) (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Race fans enter the track during a meet, after the deaths of 20 racehorses in the first two months of this year at the Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia, California on March 3, 2019. - Santa Anita averaged more than 55 horse deaths per year from 2008-18, according to data from the California Horse Racing Board, a total of 553 deaths in all, but this year's major rise in deaths is under investigation. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP) (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
ARCADIA, CA - JUNE 22: Triple crown winner Justify makes his way to the track at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Ca., on Saturday, June 22, 2018. Justify is descended from Seattle Slew, Secretariat, Count Fleet, War Admiral, Omaha and Gallant Fox, all of whom also won the American Triple Crown. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/Digital First Media/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)
ARCADIA, CA - JUNE 22: Fans look on as triple crown winner Justify is paraded along the track at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Ca., on Saturday, June 22, 2018. (Keith Birmingham/Pasadena Star-News)
ARCADIA, CA - JUNE 22: Triple crown winner Justify's trainer Bob Baffert makes his way from the track at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Ca., on Saturday, June 22, 2018. (Keith Birmingham/Pasadena Star-News)
ARCADIA, CA - MAY 26: Jockey Tiago Pereira on horse Fashionably Fast crossing the finish line during the Whitehill Family Day at the Races race at Santa Anita Gold Cup Race Day at Santa Anita Race Track on May 26, 2018 in Arcadia, California. (Photo by Tasia Wells/Getty Images)
Bugler Jay Cohen walks to the track before the the start of Breeders Cup horse races at Santa Anita Park, Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, in Arcadia, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

How dangerous is Santa Anita Park?

While 30 horse deaths this season sounds like a lot, it’s actually a fairly low number for Santa Anita Park.

Going back to 2008, at least 30 horses have died every year at the track, according to numbers compiled by KTLA, with a high of 59 in 2012. Over the last 11 seasons, an average of 42 horses died per year — 19 during races and 23 during training. That number has eclipsed 50 twice in the last three years.

Worse yet, Santa Anita isn’t even the most dangerous track. The Los Angeles Times found that an average of 2.04 horses died per 1,000 starts last year, which is higher than the national average of 1.68. But if the Breeders’ Cup would have been moved, it likely would have been to Churchill Downs, which had 2.73 deaths per 1,000 starts.

Calls to end horse racing have been made for a long time from organizations like PETA, but as these deaths become more prominent in the news, those calls are growing louder and coming from local and state governments too.

More from Yahoo Sports:

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.