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Image: AAP

The Breeders’ Cup will remain at Santa Anita despite the deaths of 30 horses at the Southern California track over the past six months.

The board of directors unanimously decided to keep the two-day Breeders’ Cup meeting at the Arcadia track for a record 10th time on November 1 and 2.

The board announced its decision at a meeting on Thursday in Lexington, Kentucky.

Craig Fravel, president and chief executive of the Breeders’ Cup, said in a statement the ownership of Santa Anita and other groups had made “meaningful and effective reforms” in recent months to improve safety.

“We fully embrace those reforms and will devote our time and energy in the coming months to further advance those efforts,” Fravel said.

“We look forward to showing the world the best in thoroughbred racing at one of its finest venues.”

The 30 horse deaths occurred during Santa Anita’s winter-spring meeting which began on December 26 and ended on Sunday.

The decision gives a vote of confidence to the historic track and avoids the logistics of moving the rich two-day event on five months’ notice.

“We need it so badly, just for morale,” Bob Baffert, dual Triple Crown-winning trainer, said last week.

“The morale has been so low here.”

The president of The Stronach Group which owns Santa Anita, thanked the Breeders’ Cup board for its support.

“Santa Anita and The Stronach Group remain steadfast in our commitment to put the health and safety of the horses and riders above all else, and we are pleased that the Breeders’ Cup board recognised and shares in that goal,” Belinda Stronach said in a statement.

Racing at Santa Anita is to resume on September 27.

The fatalities have raised alarm within California and the rest of the racing industry.

Most of the deaths occurred during the winter months when usually arid Santa Anita was hit with record rainfall.

The Stronach Group has moved to reduce the use of anti-bleeding medication Lasix on race days. Going further, there has been a proposal to eliminate Lasix in two-year-old horses starting next year.

The Breeders’ Cup requires pre- and post-race testing, including out-of-competition testing, for prohibited substances; 24-hour security for horses starting 72 hours ahead of post time; and periodic inspections and testing of racing surfaces before the event.

In addition to its own rules, the event will include all of the reform measures adopted and implemented in California this year.

The Stronach Group has banned Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer from Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields in Northern California, which it owns, after four of his horses were among the 30 dead.

The Breeders’ Cup features 14 races with prize money of more than $30 million.

 
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