Santa Anita to introduce new technology designed to protect horses

ARCADIA, Calif. (KABC) -- As Santa Anita Park deals with the fallout of dozens of horse deaths in the past year, track officials will demonstrate new technology designed to identify pre-existing conditions that could lead to horse injuries.

The PET Scan machine, which debuts Friday, can be used to diagnose early problems with the horses' legs.

Meanwhile, the California Horse Racing Board announced its report on the high rate of horse deaths at Santa Anita earlier this year is being delayed. Rick Baedeker, the board's executive director, said the report is now scheduled to be released on Jan. 15. It was originally set to be issued this month.

He didn't provide a reason for the delay at the board's monthly meeting Thursday at Los Alamitos racetrack in Orange County.

However, regulators approved tentative new rules on jockeys whipping horses. Jockeys riding in California wouldn't be able to strike a horse to make it run faster or be allowed to whip in an overhand motion under a proposed amendment approved by the California Horse Racing Board on Thursday.

The rule now goes to a 45-day public comment period after which the regulatory body would have to vote again. It could be months before the new rule takes effect.

The rule would make California the most restrictive racing state for the use of crops, commonly called whips. It would amend a rule imposed earlier this year by the racing board that restricts jockeys from using their crop unless it's necessary to control a horse for safety reasons.

The majority of the 37 horse deaths occurred during the first three months of the year at the Arcadia racetrack's winter-spring meet. The race track has seen a significant drop in attendance since the controversial deaths.

The most recent death came in early November, after a 4-year-old thoroughbred sustained a leg injury during the final race of the Breeders' Cup.

The track has made some changes to their procedures, such as cracking down on the use of riding crops and certain drugs, but animal rights activists continue to stage protests outside the park.

The Associated Pres contributed to this report.
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