Del Mar racetrack prioritizes safety as new season starts

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DEL MAR, Calif. -- As horse racing fans gathered in North County for a new season Friday, protesters turned up for a demonstration against animal cruelty.

The Bing Crosby Season began Nov. 8 and is scheduled to last through Dec. 1 at the famed horse racing track in Del Mar. Fans can catch the races every Thursday through Sunday during that time.

But a local animal rights group is using the hashtag #BanHorseRacing to protest the sport at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.

Friday morning, demonstrators gathered in the parking lot outside the racetrack entrance.

The gathering happened in light of nearly 40 horse deaths after races at the Santa Anita Park in Los Angeles.

"The deaths of the horses are not reported accurately," said group organizer Ellen Ericksen in a press release. "Horse owners only care about the prize money."

Executives at the Del Mar track are focused on making sure this season is as safe as possible. "Always safety, that's the whole thing for us, that is number one through 10," said Joe Harper, CEO of the Del Mar racetrack.

Del Mar has been the safest track in the United States for the last three years. Harper said he hopes to keep it that way.

Track officials from Santa Anita have been meeting and sharing best practices with Harper from other venues in order to prevent horse and rider injuries.

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