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Newsom calls on racetrack to halt races until further inspection following 29th horse death

The Hill logo The Hill 6/12/2019 John Bowden
Gavin Newsom wearing a suit and tie: Newsom calls on racetrack to halt races until further inspection following 29th horse death © Getty Newsom calls on racetrack to halt races until further inspection following 29th horse death

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) called Tuesday night for a racetrack in the state to suspend horse races until state officials can guarantee the facility's safety after more than two dozen horses died.

Newsom said in a press release Tuesday evening that he was asking state officials to suspend all business at the Santa Anita Park until veterinarians hired by the state inspected the conditions at the horse track.

"I continue to be troubled by the horse deaths at Santa Anita Park. Enough is enough. I am calling on the California Horse Racing Board to ensure that no horse races until they are examined by independent veterinarians and found fit to compete," he said in a statement.

"As Santa Anita prepares to host the 2019 Breeders' Cup in November, we must show the horse racing world that California puts safety first," Newsom added.

His remarks come after operations at the track were previously suspended "indefinitely" in March, only for the track to re-open weeks later. Following the re-open, at least 8 other horses have been euthanized following injuries at the track.

The Stronach Group, which owns the track, pledged in mid-May to investigate the injuries after one 3-year-old horse was euthanized following an "unusual" shoulder injury.

"Equine shoulder injuries are rare, especially for a horse that is galloping as opposed to breezing or racing," the organization said at the time. "A comprehensive evaluation will be completed to understand what might have caused this uncommon injury."

The number of deaths at the track since Christmas, 29 in total, surpass the total number of deaths suffered by horses at the track throughout the entirety of 2018.

"The tracks out here are built not for weather like that," Tim Ritvo, COO of the company, told ESPN in March that wet conditions and cold temperatures contributed to the injuries.

"The safety, health and welfare of the horses and jockeys is our top priority," he added in a press release. "While we are confident further testing will confirm the soundness of the track, the decision to close is the right thing to do at this time."'

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