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Santa Anita Park in California To Receive $32 Million In Upgrades

Written By Derek Helling on July 31, 2023
horse carrying jockey races under santa anita park logo

While live thoroughbred racing will soon disappear in northern California, it could become more vivid in the southern part of the state. The Stronach Group has announced forthcoming updates to Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California.

While the aim of the upgrades is to try to attract more competitors to the track, the updates could also provide some necessary improvements in the track’s safety for equine athletes. Santa Anita Park has not been isolated from concerns over horse fatalities across the United States this year.

Stronach Group lays out Santa Anita Park upgrade plans

According to Jason Henry of The Orange County Register, Stronach is putting almost $32 million into Santa Anita Park in various facets. Those include:

  • Barn improvements
  • Digging an equine swimming pool
  • Implementation of a new one-mile turf chute
  • Installment of a new synthetic training track
  • Living quarter upgrades

Also included in those costs is a fund valued at $1 million to assist with the relocation of horses from another of the group’s California properties, Golden Gate Fields. Stronach announced earlier this month that it would permanently close that track.

Because that effectively marks the end of live thoroughbred racing in northern California, Stronach is also going to be part of covering costs of shipping horses to tracks like Santa Anita Park. With all these efforts, Stronach hopes that owners of horses from northern California will make the jaunt to Santa Anita Park.

In that interest, Stronach is also considering expanding its schedule to four cards per week. It’s too early to tell whether these announcements will provide enough incentive for northern California horse owners.

Even if some don’t make the trip, the improvements could be in the best interest of the horses that do compete at Santa Anita Park.

Santa Anita Park responds to horse injuries

Just a little more than four years ago, Santa Anita Park had a serious issue with equine safety. From late December 2018 through June 2019, nearly 30 horses were euthanized after participating in activities at the track according to Doug Criss of CNN.

Henry says that prompted Santa Anita Park to start its move toward synthetic surfaces. That and other measures resulted in improvement in equine safety. City News Service reports that the number of horse fatalities in 2022 amounted to 12 according to the California Horse Racing Board.

However, through February of this year, seven more horses have seen their last moments at Santa Anita Park. Santa Anita Park has not been alone in such experiences this year, either. Churchill Downs relocated its races due to equine safety concerns. Also, the United States Congress has inquired about equine safety this year as well.

Stronach believes the track upgrades should be of benefit for equine athletes and spectators alike. Whether horses flock to the track from northern California and leave as healthy as they arrived will determine whether those hopes are realized.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

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