The California Horse Racing Board has agreed to pay owner Jerry Jamgotchian $19,440 in attorney fees and costs, as well as turn over necropsy submission forms for horses that died on California racetracks in 2006 and part of 2007, following an order by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge.
Jamgotchian's open records request, initially made June 18, 2007, was denied, citing a California deputy attorney general's opinion. The judge ruled that the date and time of a horse's death, track, and location where it occurred, and the names of the attending veterinarians, are subject to public record. Other information will be redacted. Jamgotchian is expected to receive the records April 6.
"All I am trying to do and was trying to do is find out which tracks are death tracks in California," Jamgotchian said of his reasoning for wanting to view the necropsy reports.
"Those portions of the necropsy submission with confidential information by either state law or regulation are not public records," said Dr. Rick Arthur, CHRB equine medical director. "Both racing regulations and law, veterinary board regulations, and state law prohibit release of certain information--and the judge agreed with us. The CHRB was acting under the instructions of the deputy attorney general not to release necropsy submission form. The judge agreed with the deputy AG’s position; all the information we said is protected is protected."
Arthur said the CHRB does not currently keep a running tally of racehorse fatalities during races or training hours. The fatalities are complied at the end of the year and are available on the CHRB's Web site.
"There is some ambiguity (on the fatalities of racing and training) because of the reporting format which is explained on the bottom of the page on fatalities," Arthur said. "Starting our new fiscal year (July 1, 2008), we will be able to query the system and get useful information on a continuous basis. You will not find a more forthcoming racing regulatory agency than the CHRB."