Injury Prevention

Our goal is to prevent injury before a horse steps on the track for training or racing.

Every racehorse is given an extensive pre-race veterinary exam in the morning before being allowed to start in a race, and veterinarians visually review horses warming up on track before going to the gate for a race. From the time a horse arrives at the track and until they leave the track — through their time in the saddling paddock, post parade, starting gate, and the running of each race — horses are under the observation of an official track or CHRB veterinarian.

The same scrutiny is being brought to morning training. In March 2019, Santa Anita Park instituted a rule requiring trainers to seek track permission at least 48 hours before a horse can engage in a high-speed workout, allowing track veterinarians to identify at-risk horses through a review of their past performances, workout data, and a physical exam. At Del Mar, the condition of horses stabled on the grounds will be thoroughly analyzed by the racing office with specific conditions, such as a gap in workout activity, flagged for additional review.

Horses are also examined for injury following each race and scheduled for a follow-up exam if a physical problem is suspected. Horses found unfit for competition by an official track or CHRB veterinarian are placed on the Veterinarian’s List, a safeguard for ensuring that horses receive treatment and are kept healthy and sound.

California law calls for safety stewards at each racetrack. Safety stewards enforce the rules and procedures that protect the health and safety of racehorses, monitoring environmental conditions as well as the treatment of horses. Dangerous conditions and mistreatment are not tolerated. As part of their responsibilities, safety stewards also monitor track surfaces and work with each racing association to maintain safe, consistent racing surfaces.