Is Horse Racing at a Tipping Point?

It’s barely 9.30am at Santa Anita Park racetrack in Los Angeles, but Jennifer Saavedra has been at work for five hours already. Her husband, trainer Anthony, is traveling, and she’s charged with overseeing their small five-horse stable. “I’ll probably get done around six tonight,” she says. Long days are a staple of track life like water is to the Venetians. Not that Saavedra minds: horses are in her “blood,” the 53-year-old says.

“You couldn’t keep me away from the track since I could walk.”

But the intense scrutiny the sport in California has been under these past few months – a result of the 30 horses fatally injured at Santa Anita during a six-month period that’s commanded national headlines – has left Saavedra “exceedingly” worried that the existential crisis facing the racing industry could bring about an abrupt end to racing in California. Saavedra describes her involvement in the sport – a world as far removed from the office 9-to-5 as Mercury is from Neptune – as her “passion”. A way of life that’s “more than just a job”, she says.

But the intense scrutiny that horse racing in California has been under these past few months – a result of 30 horses fatally injured at Santa Anita during a six-month period – has left Saavedra “exceedingly” worried that the existential crisis facing the sport could bring an abrupt end to a world she’s been in her “whole life.”

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