Local breeders worried over Santa Anita horse deaths

Spring is the time of new life at Harris Farms - as foals grow into the next generation of legendary racehorses.

But this year, it's death that is overshadowing the industry.

Since December, Santa Anita Park has had 22 racehorse deaths.

The fatalities are so high that investigators are now working to discern the cause.

For John Harris, who has been breeding horses all his life, the scrutiny is disheartening to watch.

"No trainer is going to send a horse to the track that he thought was injured that could harm itself, and certainly no rider would want to get on a horse like that," says Harris.

In response to public pressure, the owners of Santa Anita have announced strict new rules - from banning race-day drugs to the use of whips.

Local breeders believe the deaths are most likely caused by the massive amounts of rain this winter compacting the sand and dirt on the track.

The harder the track is, the easier it is for horses to be injured.

Harris Farms currently has 22 of their horses training at Santa Anita.

Trainers there say if they believed the animals were in any way being mistreated, they would no longer be there.

Training resumed at Santa Anita Park on Friday with no reported injuries.

The track is currently scheduled to reopen to competitive racing on March 22.
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