As horse death toll grows at Santa Anita, fans and foes of racing see a hard battle over sport’s future

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The CHRB has called a special meeting Friday, April 12, at Santa Anita, and could take action to move racing dates to another track for the rest of this year’s season, which is scheduled to continue through Sunday, June 23.

Larry Levine, a Los Angeles-based political consultant who said he has been a horse racing fan since visiting Agua Caliente racetrack in Tijuana with his father at age 14, said he would be surprised if legislators put a racing-ban measure on the ballot, a move that could mean lost state revenue and attracting the ire of racing supporters. So any such move, he said, would be up to activists.

“In California, it comes down to ‘Do you have enough money to pay the signature-gatherers the $2 or $4 or $6 or $10 they want (per signature)?,” Levine said.

“Then it comes down to the political moxie of the industry to fight back,” he added. “Nobody can show me (the racing industry) has shown a lot of political moxie in recent years.”

But the racing industry nationwide, and related industries and labor groups in California, would spend money to protect their interests in a major racing state. Levine said such pro-racing spending would make any racing ban proposition “a very expensive campaign.”

The problem for those arguing for keeping racing, Levine said, is “How do you overcome the emotions (about) a dead horse?”

The 23rd and most recent fatal breakdown during the current Santa Anita season, which started on Wednesday, Dec. 26, occurred in the San Simeon Stakes on the hillside turf course Sunday, March 31, when the 5-year-old gelding Arms Runner fractured his right foreleg as the horses crossed the main track near the top of the stretch. Arms Runner and jockey Martin Pedroza fell, taking La Sardane and rider Ruben Fuentes down with them. Arms Runner had to be eunthanized

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 16-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 twice. He cashed on the NHC Tour for 2018 with a 19th overall finish. Rich was also a winner of a $24,000 package into Kentucky Derby Betting Championship I. A former executive with Brisnet.com, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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