Seal of the Governor and photo of Gavin Newsom courtesy of the Office of the Governor of the State of California.

Governor Newsom signs horse racing reform legislation increasing safety and transparency

Governor Gavin Newsom signed two bills into law boosting safety and transparency in horse racing. The signings follow an unprecedented 18 months for California’s horse racing industry, from the unprecedented increase and ongoing equine fatalities that occurred in early 2019, to the recent economic hardship caused by the current pandemic.

“The horse racing industry must accept and adopt forward-thinking solutions as the health and welfare of the sport’s human and equine athletes are paramount to their future in California,” said Governor Newsom. “These bills are an essential step to create a safer and more transparent horse racing experience for everyone involved and can serve as a model for other states to follow.”

The Governor signed AB 1974 by Adam Gray (D-Merced) which codifies and expands upon several recommendations contained in the CHRB memo to the Governor from December 2019 and its March 2020 Report on Fatalities at Santa Anita Park from 12/30/18 through 3/31/19. The bill creates the strongest state rules and protocols in horse racing, establishes new criteria for examination of thoroughbreds and quarter horses, requires all horses at licensed meets to be subject to veterinary monitoring during morning training, and creates new rules for medication administration. The bill also expands veterinary monitoring and screening to morning training and other related activities and establishes criteria for examination of thoroughbreds and quarter horses to determine eligibility and appropriateness to enter a race. Additionally, the bill requires all horses at licensed thoroughbred, fair, or quarter horse race meets to be subject to veterinary monitoring during morning training and establishes specified prohibitions on trainers for the application of medications unless the medication is prescribed for that specific horse and administered strictly in accordance with CHRB regulations. Creates new requirements on how horses that are unsound or lame be placed on the veterinarian’s list and ensures the use of diagnostic imaging to be an accepted component of prerace examinations by an examining veterinarian.

“Horse racing in California has a long and storied history. As we learn more about how to keep horses and riders safe, the sport must evolve with the science. Moving forward California horse racing will operate under some of the safest and most transparent conditions in the nation,” said Assemblymember Gray.

He also signed SB 800 by Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa) requires the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) to publish weekly horse fatalities that occur within a licensed facility, authorizes veterinarians to make available the entire medical records of racehorses to specified parties involved in horse racing, and requires the CHRB to post results of nonconfidential official racehorse drug test results within five business days of test confirmation.

“Making racing safer for horses and jockeys is critical for the future of this sport,” said Senator Bill Dodd. “Thanks to Gov. Newsom for signing this law, which will help ensure track conditions are right and horses are fit before they hit the starting gate.”

In 2019, Governor Newsom signed SB 469 by Senator Dodd into law which provided the California Horse Racing Board with the authority to suspend a race meet license when necessary to protect the health and safety of horses or riders and created a review group at Santa Anita Park to provide additional examination and determine if an individual horse is at elevated risk of injury before racing.

This article was released by the California Governor’s Office.