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By Richard E. “Rick” Dennis

March 18, 2019

ARCADIA, Calif. (KABC) — Santa Anita Park is scheduled to resume horse racing on Friday, racetrack officials confirm. 

The track is set to reopen after a deal was made Saturday by track officials and the Thoroughbred Owners of California. Part of the deal includes a ban on the drug Lasix, which will now be delayed until next year. Lasix is a diuretic that helps prevent horses from hemorrhaging, according to the Daily Racing Forum. Racing at the Park had been suspended indefinitely after the number of Thoroughbred deaths started to skyrocket since late December. A total of 23 horses have died due to injuries on the track. 

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said Friday that it is joining an investigation surrounding the 23 horse deaths at Santa Anita Park.The DA confirmed that it has assigned investigators to work with the California Horse Racing Board. Meantime, there is a call for a congressional committee to investigate treatment of racehorses. Congresswoman Judy Chu wants the House Energy and Commerce Committee to investigate the treatment of horses, not only at Santa Anita but at racetracks across the country.

The park announced this week that the track would ban race-day medication and the use of riding crops. The Lasix ban was one of several changes to Santa Anita policies announced. But the Thoroughbred Owners of California and the California Thoroughbred Trainers — which both support the use of Lasix — balked at the ban, according to the DRF, and it will now begin with next year’s crop of 2-year-olds. Additionally, race-day administration of Lasix will be reduced from a maximum of 10 CCs to 5. 

PETA issued on statement late Saturday, saying Thoroughbred owners are like Lasix addicts and “if one more horse dies, there will be blood on the owners’ hands and hell to pay.” California Thoroughbred owners and trainers are like Lasix addicts, but they’re shooting up the horses instead of themselves. No horses outside the U.S. and Canada race with Lasix in their systems, and the owners’ claim that its use must be phased out and not ended outright, is transparently bogus. 

PETA is relieved that Santa Anita has finalized its ban on some of the cruelest racing practices, including injection of joints with corticosteroids, painful shockwave therapy as well as whipping and has enacted medication rules that will end the use of Phenylbutazone 24 hours before a race and most other drugs in the week before a race, among other changes. PETA will be watching very closely to see that these changes are implemented, and the public will join us in watching what happens to the horses. If one more horse dies, there will be blood on the owners’ hands and hell to pay.

Santa Anita Park has been plagued by horse fatalities since the winter season opened on Dec. 26, this being the 22nd reported fatal incident.

The track was closed for racing on Tuesday March 5, pending further evaluation of the surfaces. It was reopened for galloping and jogging, but not timed workouts, yesterday, Wednesday, March 13, following retesting of the surface by veteran trackman and previous Santa Anita superintendent Dennis Moore.

“Everything went well,” Moore is quoted as saying in a press release. “The main track is good. All of the test data support what we experienced.”

A reported 196 workouts were completed Wednesday without incident, prior to this morning’s fatality.

However, it was later reported that Princess Lili B, a 3-year-old maiden filly  broke both forelegs following the end of a half-mile workout Thursday morning at Santa Anita Park and was euthanized, according to her trainer David Bernstein and reported in the Daily Racing Form by Brad Free.

Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer of The Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita, is quoted as saying, “We are devastated.”

A spokesperson is quoted as saying a major corporate announcement  is planned for midday Thursday.

The problems have altered the racing schedule and have had an impact on prep races for The Kentucky Derby with the cancellation of the San Felipe Stakes (G2). Santa Anita Park is scheduled to host the Breeders’ Cup Championships Nov. 1–2. This is an evolving story.


I authored the following  article on Aug.6, 2014 in response to an ever-increasing use of drugs in the horse industry, by horse trainers.  The primary motivation driving drug use in the horse industry is “Money”.  As the old adage states, “Money is the ROOT of all evil.”  In this article, I made a myriad of “Ominous Predictions” about the effects of drug use on horses both, during training and exhibition, that unfortunately, for the horse, is coming full circle and “IS” becoming a stark reality.

Also, the article includes my prediction of the eventual federalization of equine drug-testing programs in the private sector. Simply put, “If the private sector won’t police itself, the Federal Government will do it for them.”  Obviously, from the foregoing, the race horse industry isn’t doing such a hot job of eliminating drug use.  The impending investigation by the DA in the foregoing matter as well as a hearing by Congress are certainly steps in the right direction for a coup. As a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs training school, my experience as a 16-year Drug Enforcement Agent and being certified as an Expert Witness in both Federal and State Courts on drugs of abuse, I know all too well, the effects drugs of abuse has on the anatomy.

The detriment to the horse, attributed to drug use either during training, exercise, or performance, far outweighs the money made by individuals using unscrupulous methods to cheat ones way through the industry.

To read the entire article click on the following link:

☛ Mechanical Horse Under the Influence 8-6-14


The legality of drug and alcohol testing for humans, in the private sector, was established back in 1987.  Over-the-years, I’ve authored a myriad of Drug and Alcohol Testing programs for the private sector which includes a litany of Fortune 500 and other companies to include, but not limited to,:  Exxon Company, USA, Gulf Oil, Pennzoil, USA, Chevron, USA, Kerr-McGee Corporation, Marathon Oil Company, ARCO Oil & Gas, etc.  A few of the established legal precedents included language emphasizing “SAFETY” instead of incarceration for the violator.  Therefore, the courts have overwhelmingly approved and upheld the rights of a private company, to include in their hiring criteria, the ability to drug and alcohol test as well as performing a cursory search or inspection of an individual employee, his or her personal effects, individual private vehicles as well as their packages “on Company premises or properties” as a condition of employment, in order to provide and SAFE and PRODUCTIVE work environment.  

Also, as a condition of employment is a provision authorizing the Company to inspect Company provided owned or leased property to include Company provided housing.  The primary use of drug and alcohol testing as well as individual searches is to provide a “Safe and Effective work force” and the general public, in general.

The key to a successful drug testing program is to design one that accomplishes the main goal, i.e., to provide a safe and productive work environment without using this program to circumvent or violate an individual’s constitutional rights, e.g., 5th Amendment Rights:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Simply put, the employee’s employment status is terminated rather than summoning law enforcement to effectuate an arrest.  Therefore, the employees civil rights are maintained and aren’t violated.  The US COAST GUARD included an additional punishment for licensed marine individuals who fails a drug or alcohol test to include:  A suspension of their licenses until such time as they successfully complete a drug rehabilitation program and agree to unannounced or random drug and alcohol testing thereafter, for a specified time period. 


Private sector horse associations use present-day horse testing programs which are modeled from the foregoing program criteria, or the 1987 model. Authors of these programs, myself included, always incorporate the same or similar language when designing a drug testing program for a private horse association.  After all, the language and criteria in the 1987 model is already a proven and judiciary winning model.  Some additional language in the private sector horse associations programs include monetary fines, penalties, and suspensions from the association for the individual violating the drug testing rules.  

The key to this authority is to provide, in writing, to the prospective member, that complete adherence to the associations horse drug testing rule is required by same as a condition of individual membership into the association.  Another key, is to provide the member with a copy of the penalties the individual or individuals will be subject to for violating such rules and regulations. 


One of the adverse effects of using a certain class of drugs on a horse either, during training or exhibition, can become detrimental to the safety and well being of the horse and rider.  A horse is not designed to operate under the influence of drugs.  As we know, a horse has a very sensitive system which will allow a horse, on a particular medication, to easily become impaired during exercise or performance.  It’s this impairment capability of certain drugs which become a “RISK FACTOR” and perhaps detrimental to the safety and well being of the horse and rider.  Accidents can happen and if the injury, to the horse, become a debilitating one and contributive to unauthorized or illegal drug use, the horse usually ends up in the sale pen and perhaps the foreign horse slaughter plant.  An otherwise healthy horse, just becomes another victim to the greed and morale decay of humanity.  

Therefore, the “breed more, kill more” cycle of some horses lives continues to become a reality and feed the horse slaughter pipeline. Perhaps the horse industry is to corrupt to police itself and a federalized drug testing law is the only way to eliminate drug use and abuse among horses.

“Until Next Time, Keep Em Between The Bridle!”

Richard E. “Rick” Dennis
Managing Member
Freelance Writer & Author
Phone (985) 630-3500
Web Site:

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  1. It’s refreshing to read an article where the author takes a stand for “right” to tell the world of the plight of our horses. Thank you for being the “voice” of what’s wrong with our horses in our decaying society. 

  2. Am I oversensitive or what?
    Twenty-two horses have died at Santa Anita since December, and the officials at the racetrack call it “beyond horrible.” But if only half that number had perished, this would not have been a story and only a few of us would have even known that there was an “acceptable” level of carnage.

    If Santa Anita Park can determine what’s causing the exceptionally high rate of loss and we return to the norm, know that hundreds of horses across the country will still be losing their lives yearly for the enjoyment of racing patrons. That should not sit well with anyone who has become incensed by this current enlightenment.

  3. Another horse died — and it will keep happening until horse racing is banned…That’s the end story. Period 

  4. These horses are overmedicated so they can race harder and faster at the hands of the jockeys who will whip them endlessly. Horse racing is not a sport. It is another primitive form of entertainment for the humans who bet on the animals for profit and greed.
    It is time to abolish this cruel form of entertainment and make it illegal just like dogfighting and cockfighting.


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