Anyone who remotely follows horse racing knows the problems Santa Anita Park had last year with horse deaths. They tried to come up with reasons and rationales, and yet, horses kept dying, culminating with a horse breaking down in the Breeders' Cup Classic this past November. It was tragic and it was horrible.
The Stronach Group, owners of Santa Anita and several other racetracks, took steps to ensure racing was safe. They made racing as drug free as possible. They increased veterinary inspections pre-race. They made Santa Anita one of the cleanest, safest, tracks to run at in North America. And now they have PET scans available to trainers. The equipment and installation cost Stronach over $700,000, but man is it a game changer.
The PET scan can show things that a common X-Ray will not. Trainer Dan Blacker tweeted out a video showing the difference. The first portion of the video is of a horse's leg that is healthy. The second part of the video clearly shows an injury, an injury that would not have been diagnosed with an X-Ray. This is an injury that could have caused a horse to break down. Now, that won't happen. Instead, he will be treated and will heal.
For a track that was so maligned last year, this is an incredible step forward and one that every track in the country should take. The safer we make racing for the horses and the jockeys, the better the sport will be and the longer, healthier future it will have.