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Volume 26 No. 65
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Breeders' Cup Explains Decision To Keep Event At Santa Anita

The Breeders' Cup board late last month voted unanimously to keep the event at the California track

Breeders' Cup President & CEO Craig Fravel spoke out publicly yesterday on the horse racing property's decision to keep this year's event at Santa Anita after the track's most recent meet contained 30 equine fatalities. "In a normal year, we would not have to re-confirm a decision we had made previously. But I think we all know this hasn't so far been a normal year," Fravel said. The Breeders' Cup announced on June 28 that its board had voted unanimously to re-commit to its plan to hold the 14-race event on Nov. 1-2 at the California track. Fravel said, "I am not concerned we will lose business or struggle with attendance or otherwise -- the California racing community will support the event as will people from around the world. ... We thought reforms have been put into place to improve what was an unfortunate situation earlier in the winter and spring and were things that needed to be acknowledged and deserved our re-commitment to go there." Of the 30 deaths, 23 occurred between Dec. 30-March 31 in the midst of an especially cold and rainy Southern California winter. Officials from the Stronach Group talked to the Breeders' Cup BOD before it voted to re-commit to holding the event at Santa Anita, Fravel said. The Stronach Group has undertaken multiple initiatives, including banning trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, banning race-day medications and adopting European standards, which have resulted in a lower horse death rate.

APPROPRIATE PLAN TO MOVE FORWARD: Fravel said, "I thought our full board needed to take the time to hear what The Stronach Group had done and what the corrective measures were put in place, and what plans were for the future, before we went before the public and said, 'Let's stop speculating about where we are going to be and let's confirm we are going to be at Santa Anita.'" The BOD took the action because of public speculation, the publicity surrounding the horse deaths at Santa Anita, as well as recent legislation passed in California. The state legislature passed a measure which would give the California Horse Racing Board the ability to suspend racing if it deemed it necessary. The deaths at Santa Anita have resulted in tracks around the country changing their protocols to improve safety conditions for racing. "We know this is not just a Santa Anita problem," Fravel said. "It has happened elsewhere and that there are times when people get complacent about established protocols and establishing new protocols and I think it's a wake-up call for the whole industry to be eternally vigilant on the subject of injury."