Americans sour to sport on news of horse deaths: Reuters/Ipsos poll

FILE PHOTO: Horses race during the running of the Breeders’ Cup Turf thoroughbred horse race at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California November 3, 2012. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Around a third of Americans said that a series of high-profile race horse deaths this year, many of them at Southern California’s famed Santa Anita Park, had soured their opinion of the sport, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos.

The Dec. 18-19 online survey conducted in the United States found that when horses die from race-related injuries, 34% said they were left with “a lot less favorable” impression of the sport while 28% said it left them with a “somewhat less favorable” impression and 37% said it did not impact their opinion.

Among those familiar with horse racing, about 38% said they like it, while 42% do not like it and 20% said they have no opinion, the poll found.

The deaths of 37 racehorses at Santa Anita Park since last December has prompted government investigations and given momentum to federal legislation aimed at reforming the sport.

The deaths included four-year-old gelding Mongolian Groom, who injured his hind leg at last month’s nationally televised $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic and was later mechanized.

According to the poll, more than 53% supported federal legislation that would regulate the kind of drugs that can be given to racehorses.

About 16% said they oppose federal legislation and 31% said they were not sure.

The Reuters poll was conducted online in English throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 1,005 people, including 741 who said they have at least “heard of” horse-racing and knew that injured racehorses are sometimes euthanized.

It has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of 4 percentage points.

Additional reporting by Chris Kahn in New York, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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