Despite horse deaths, Breeders’ Cup still to be held at Santa Anita

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The 2019 Breeders’ Cup World Championship will be held this year as scheduled at Santa Anita Park – despite a rash of horse deaths at the track since December 2018.

The Board of Directors for the Breeders’ Cup, meeting in Lexington on Thursday, said in a statement that the decision to conduct the race at Santa Anita was unanimous.

This will be the tenth time the race has been held at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California, the most of any host venue in the 36-year history of the Breeders’ Cup.

The decision comes amid safety concerns about the Santa Anita track after 30 horses died either racing or training during the meet that ended on June 23. That led to speculation that the event would be moved to Churchill Downs in Louisville.

In response, Santa Anita instituted a number of new safety reforms and just this week, a new California state law took effect that allows racing to be suspended at the track by the State Horse Racing Board anytime it sees a safety issue for horses and jockeys.

“Foremost among the core values of the Breeders’ Cup are the safety and integrity of the competition and we hold ourselves, our host sites and our competitors, to the highest standards of both It is clear that meaningful and effective reforms and best practices have been implemented in recent months at Santa Anita through the collective efforts of The Stronach Group, the Thoroughbred Owners of California, the California Thoroughbred Trainers, and the California Horse Racing Board,” Craig Fravel, President and CEO of the Breeders’ Cup, said in a statement Thursday. “We fully embrace those reforms and will devote our time and energy in the coming months to further advance those efforts. We look forward to showing the world the best in Thoroughbred racing at one of its finest venues.”

The Breeders’ Cup will be held on November 1-2.

Keeneland, which is scheduled to host the Breeders’ Cup in 2020, issued a statement following the decision.

“Keeneland fully supports the decision of the Breeders’ Cup Board of Directors to keep the 2019 World Championships at Santa Anita. We know it was not undertaken lightly, and required extensive thought and discussion by all parties involved,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said in the statement. “Given the continued reforms implemented by The Stronach Group for the safety of horses and jockeys, Santa Anita has positioned itself to be an appropriate host site for this year’s World Championships. The Breeders’ Cup has the best interest of our equine and human athletes at the heart of every decision it makes, and this one is no exception.”

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