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Prosecutor’s task force to probe horse deaths at Santa Anita

Santa Anita Fatalities Horse Racing

FILE - This March 7, 2019, file photo, shows the empty home stretch at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. A filly broke both front legs at the end of a workout on the main dirt track at Santa Anita and has been euthanized, becoming the 22nd horse to suffer catastrophic injuries since Dec. 26. Trainer and owner David Bernstein says the 3-year-old filly named Princess Lili B broke down just past the finish line on Thursday morning, March 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)


LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles County’s top prosecutor says she’s formed a task force to investigate 23 horse deaths at Santa Anita Park between December and March.

District Attorney Jackie Lacey said Tuesday the task force includes experienced prosecutors and sworn peace officers. She says they “will thoroughly investigate and evaluate the evidence to determine whether unlawful conduct or conditions affected the welfare and safety” of the horses.

Lacey’s office had previously said its investigators would work with the California Horse Racing Board as that body looks into the deaths.

A racetrack spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Kathy Guillermo, senior vice president for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, lauded the announcement and says, “the racing industry has shown that it’s incapable of policing itself.”