California Horse Racing Board to discuss safety, medication regulations after 22 horses die

PHOTO: Jockey Mike Smith aboard Royal Delta, right, is in the lead during the Breeders Cup Ladies Classic at Santa Anita Park, Nov. 2 2012, in Arcadia, Calif.PlayBrian van der Brug/LA Times via Getty Images, FILE
WATCH 22nd horse dies at Santa Anita racetrack in California

The California Horse Racing Board will hold a meeting Thursday to discuss new rules for safety and giving medication to horses after 22 horses died at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia.

Board members are also set to discuss the whether the use of a riding crop should be limited to "protect the safety of the horse and rider," according to the meeting agenda.

(MORE: Santa Anita cancels horse racing indefinitely after 21st fatality in the less than 3 months)
photo: Vasilika, second from right, with Flavien Prat aboard, draws away in mid-stretch and goes on to win the Grade II, $200,000 Buena Vista Stakes horse race, Feb. 23, 2019, at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. Benoit Photo via AP, FILE
photo: Vasilika, second from right, with Flavien Prat aboard, draws away in mid-stretch and goes on to win the Grade II, $200,000 Buena Vista Stakes horse race, Feb. 23, 2019, at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.

If approved, Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields in Albany would be the first racetracks in the country to ban the use of riding crops and medication on racing days, according to the Associated Press.

Santa Anita Park announced on March 14 that it would enact a "zero tolerance" policy for the use of medication on racing day in the wake of the "heartbreaking" deaths.

PHOTO: Jockey Mike Smith aboard Royal Delta, right, is in the lead during the Breeders Cup Ladies Classic at Santa Anita Park, Nov. 2 2012, in Arcadia, Calif. Brian van der Brug/LA Times via Getty Images, FILE
Jockey Mike Smith aboard Royal Delta, right, is in the lead during the Breeder's Cup Ladies' Classic at Santa Anita Park, Nov. 2 2012, in Arcadia, Calif.

"The sport of horse racing is the last great sporting legacy platform to be modernized," the statement read. "If we expect our sport to grow for future generations, we must raise our standards."

In a statement, Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer of The Stronach Group, which owns the track, said that the change will be "hard" but was driven by "the love of the horse."

"We know firsthand owners, jockeys and trainers love and care deeply for their horses," Ritvo said. "We too love the horses and we’re making these changes to put the health and welfare of the horse and rider first. We are looking forward with the industry partners as these changes are implemented."

Racing has been suspended at Santa Anita since March 5 but is expected to resume after the board votes on a number of key issues.