State regulators will renew their discussion on extending an operating license for Los Alamitos Race Course Thursday, a few days after two horses died while training at the Cypress track.
According to the California Horse Racing Board’s website, Don’t Stop Looking, a 3-year-old filly, and Noor Khan, a 4-year-old mare, died Sunday. Details of the deaths were not immediately available.
They were the first deaths to occur at the track since Dec. 16.
On Dec. 17, the CHRB granted Los Alamitos a license to conduct quarter horse racing in the 2020-21 season, but only for six months instead of the full year track owners had requested.
Los Alamitos had applied to hold quarter horse races from Dec. 23, 2020, through Dec. 21, 2021. But after the board approved new regulations limiting the amount of drugs horses can be given before racing at Los Alamitos, Commissioner Oscar Gonzales introduced a motion to limit the license to six months so the board could revisit the issue and examine whether the new changes were successful in reducing the number of equine deaths at the track. Gonzalez cited more than 30 horse deaths that occurred at the track last year.
The board’s approval of the motion means it is now scheduled to review Los Alamitos’ safety record at its June meeting, with the option of extending the license beyond its current expiration date of June 30.
However, the agenda for the board’s Thursday meeting includes a “renewed application” by Los Alamitos for a racing license through Dec. 21.
The owner of Los Alamitos, Dr. Ed Allred, balked at Gonzales’ motion at the CHRB’s last meeting and threatened to withdraw his application for a license altogether.
“The people (owners, trainers and other stakeholders) are making preparations and plans. This is devastating for Los Al. It’ll become a real estate development. I don’t want that to happen,” Dr. Ed Allred told the board.
But he later relented, and track tweeted on Dec. 21: “…We’ll continue racing while we await reconsideration by the CHRB of our license application to conduct live night QH & Thoroughbred racing Dec. 26, 2020 through Dec. 21, 2021.”
Only six of the board’s seven members were present at December’s meeting, with member Alex Solis absent. It wasn’t clear whether all seven members will be present for Thursday’s meeting, but Solis’ potential presence could tip the balance, since last month’s vote on Los Alamitos’ original application for a 12-month license was 3-3, meaning it failed to pass before Gonzalez’ compromise motion for the six-month license passed by a 5-1 vote.
Los Alamitos was briefly placed on probation by the CHRB on July 10, 2020, due to a spate of racehorse deaths. At that time at least 20 horses had died at the track in 2020 after suffering racing or training injuries, and another 10 had succumbed to gastrointestinal and other types of illnesses.
On July 20, the CHRB unanimously signed off on a plan to allow Los Alamitos to continue holding races after track officials agreed to add several layers of oversight. The additional protocols including added another veterinarian to be a “roving observer of horses in training, while entering, exiting, or on the track,” as well as a “security steward” who oversees veterinary and barn practices, and an “entry review panel” of experts who have the authority to scratch horses for races.
After the probation was lifted, at least 10 more horses died, seven from racing injuries and three from causes listed by the CHRB as “other.”
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