Los Angeles could soon become the largest U.S. city to ban horse racing after a string of horse deaths at one of the biggest tracks in Southern California.
Commissioner Roger Wolfson recently submitted a motion with the Los Angeles Board of Animal Services calling for the ban. The motion, entitled, “Opposition to Horse Racing in the State of California,” appears on Tuesday’s agenda.
“I’m hopeful that we can state a real stand — no city that I know about has taken a stand on this,” Wolfson told City News Service.
“We’re the department of animal services, not the department of companion animal services, and anything that affects the well-being of animals in Los Angels is in out purview,” Wolfson said.
Horse Deaths at Santa Anita
The motion follows the 30 horse deaths in the last six months at the nearby Santa Anita race track, located in Arcadia. Santa Anita has long been considered one of the most prestigious tracks in the nation. Cause of the horse deaths is still under investigation but experts in the industry think it may have something to do with California’s exceptionally rainy winter season and its impact on the track surface.
“Santa Anita ran 111 races on its main track when the surface was listed as either ‘muddy,’ ‘sloppy’ or ‘off,’ compared with only 18 during the same period the previous winter, according to industry records,” The New York Times reported last month.
“Sixty-two of those races were run when the track was sealed, meaning heavy sleds had compressed the surface to prevent moisture from seeping into the lower levels, creating a harder surface. That can mean difficult footing for fragile 1,100-pound horses with ankles as slim as Coke bottles.”
The move would make Los Angeles the largest U.S. city to take a stand against horse racing, a sport considered by many animal rights activists to be unnecessarily cruel. Fractures and injuries are the leading causes of death for racing horses.
And despite Los Angeles not being home to the track where the deaths occurred, Wolfson emphasized the importance of the motion. “Look, 30 horses have died at Santa Anita; that’s a nearby city. We’re concerned about it.”