A race on opening day at Del Mar
A race on opening day at Del Mar in 2017. File photo by Chris Stone

The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club said Tuesday it is making changes in advance of the summer racing season to increase the safety of horses and jockeys.

Chief Executive Officer Joe Harper said in an email that the track will be instituting the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities‘ medication standards, which he called the “strictest in the world,” while bringing on additional veterinarians to oversee workouts.

“Del Mar is committed to the industry’s most progressive safety and welfare protocols and has taken great strides in recent years to implement a number of procedures intended to make racing at Del Mar safer,” he said.

The changes come following the deaths at nearly two dozen horses at Santa Anita Park outside Los Angeles earlier this year. The injuries have prompted an investigation by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

Harper said safety improvements at Del Mar over the past several years have resulted in a 70 percent reduction in catastrophic injuries.

“We believe there are even more opportunities for continued improvement. Therefore, we will be implementing additional enhanced procedures for the upcoming summer meet,” he said.

Other changes planned include increasing out-of-competition testing, enhancing stable security and developing a stakeholder advisory committee.

Opening day at the track is July 17.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.