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Horse racing-Los Alamitos allowed to remain open despite spate of horse deaths

Southern California's Los Alamitos race track will be allowed to remain open despite a recent spike in horse deaths after a state regulatory board accepted its safety plan on Monday.

LOS ANGELES, July 20 (Reuters) - Southern California's Los Alamitos race track will be allowed to remain open despite a recent spike in horse deaths after a state regulatory board accepted its safety plan on Monday.

Thirty one horses have died at the track near Los Angeles either during training or racing or from illnesses since the beginning of the year, more than double number that perished over the same time period a year ago.

The California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) held an emergency meeting earlier this month to address the deaths and to decide if racing should be halted at the track.

The plan includes additional safety personnel and greater scrutiny of horses in training and in races.

While the board took no action against the race track's license, it said it would monitor the plan for "effectiveness and compliance."

A spokesman for the track declined to comment.

Animal rights activists, who say the widespread use of drugs in the sport leads horses to break down and ultimately die, slammed the decision.

"The deaths won't stop as long as trainers think training means drugs and running through injuries—and as long as veterinarians go along with that," said Kathy Guillermo, a senior vice president at PETA.

"The trainers with multiple medication violations have to go. A suspension would provide time to make substantial changes for the protection of the horses and to hold trainers accountable."

Horse racing in the U.S. has come under scrutiny following the deaths of dozens of racehorses at California's famed Santa Anita Park last year, which grabbed headlines and prompted government investigations.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

((Rory.Carroll@thomsonreuters.com; 503-830-8017;))

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