Press Release

Animal Welfare Groups Call for Immediate Ban on California Trainer with 527 Horse-Racing Rule Violations

Given the staggering number of violations, the state racing board should ‘immediately ban’ trainer Dan Blacker.

The Center for a Humane Economy and Animal Wellness Action called on the California Horse Racing Board to immediately ban trainer Dan Blacker after the Los Angeles Times reported he has been cited 527 times for violating rules requiring veterinary inspections before strenuous workouts. Despite the repeated violations, the CHRB has failed to take meaningful action, and Blacker continues to race horses at Santa Anita, California’s most famous track.

California’s horse racing industry has come under intense public scrutiny after a surge in horse deaths in 2019, when 144 died at Santa Anita from injuries sustained during races, workouts, and training. The stunning body count led California Governor Gavin Newsom to famously declare that horse racing’s “time is up” if it didn’t enact meaningful reforms. According to the CHRB, deaths declined to 72 in the 2020-21 season after a number of regulations were imposed to address medications, the use of whips, and veterinary oversight. While the decline was significant, the death of 2021 Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit in December of 2021 reignited demands for increased oversight.

According to the L.A. Times, Blacker’s violations came to light after Animae, a 2-year-old filly trained by Blacker, broke down and was euthanized after suffering injuries to her pelvis and vertebrae during a workout. An investigator who looked into the filly’s death discovered that Blacker had failed to obtain the required veterinary exam in three of her four workouts, including the one that resulted in her death. That led him to investigate Blacker’s workout history, which disclosed that Blacker had failed to obtain the required exams 527 times out of 789 workouts from January 1, 2022, through July 1, 2023.

Scott Beckstead, director of campaigns for Center for a Humane Economy and member of the Oregon Racing Commission, said, “Platitudes and good intentions are not enough. The American public is fast losing its patience with horse racing industry officials and agencies who look the other way when bad trainers break or ignore the rules, or who shrug off violations in the hope nobody will notice.”

Given his staggering 527 citations for rule violations and the death of at least one horse in his care, Beckstead said, the California Horse Racing Board should immediately ban Blacker from California’s race tracks.

“Failure to take such decisive action will further erode the public’s confidence in the industry’s commitment to the safety and welfare of equine athletes who compete on California’s tracks,” he said.

Center for a Humane Economy is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(3) whose mission is to help animals by helping forge a more humane economic order. The first organization of its kind in the animal protection movement, the Center encourages businesses to honor their social responsibilities in a culture where consumers, investors, and other key stakeholders abhor cruelty and the degradation of the environment and embrace innovation as a means of eliminating both. The Center believes helping animals helps us all. X: @TheHumaneCenter

Animal Wellness Action is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) whose mission is to help animals by promoting laws and regulations at federal, state and local levels that forbid cruelty to all animals. The group also works to enforce existing anti-cruelty and wildlife protection laws. Animal Wellness Action believes helping animals helps us all. X: @AWAction_News