Prosecutor finds no crime in Santa Anita horse racing deaths

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LOS ANGELES — California prosecutors found no evidence of animal cruelty or other crimes during an investigation into a spike in horse deaths at Santa Anita Park race track over the past year, according to a report issued Thursday.

A task force formed by the Los Angeles district attorney found the 49 deaths at the track during a 12-month period ending in June occurred at a rate higher than the national average, but lower than previous years in the past decade and lower than Churchill Downs in Kentucky.

District Attorney Jackie Lacey made two dozen recommendations for improving safety at racetracks and said she would sponsor legislation to make veterinary records more transparent for horses racing in California.

“Horse racing has inherent risks but is a legally sanctioned sport in California,” Lacey said in a statement. “Greater precautions are needed to enhance safety and protect both horses and their riders.”