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

The board may decide to ban the use of riding crops and medication before races.

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.

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.

"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.