The advocacy group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals urged the Solano County sheriff on Thursday to investigate a man suspected of starving a three-year-old horse to death, according to the Virginia-based organization.
The California Horse Racing Board is also investigating the death of Tiz Willow, a female thoroughbred in the care of Gustavo Medina, but PETA believes Medina should face criminal charges.
When questioned in a June 2 meeting of the CHRB about Tiz Willow's death, Medina said the other horses at the ranch it resided at would not let it eat. However, he had nearly two months to address the problem, according to the CHRB.
When given the opportunity to defend himself, he "had little to say and no witnesses," CHRB documents indicate.
Medina had no closing argument, but when he was prompted by CHRB stewards for a response, mumbled "I'm sorry."
The CHRB determined in prior meetings that Tiz Willow died in a stall at Golden Gate Fields in Albany in January, according to PETA.
The horse had been moved from the track on Dec. 3, 2018, to a ranch near Vallejo, and then returned to the track on Jan. 23. It died two days later, PETA said.
A necropsy revealed the horse's cause of death was malnutrition, according to PETA.
"While Medina should certainly be found ineligible to participate in horse racing, administrative penalties imposed by the CHRB shouldn't supplant a criminal investigation," PETA attorney Elisabeth Custalow said.
"If Medina failed so egregiously to provide Tiz Willow with enough basic nutrition to keep her alive, there's a concern that other horses in his custody could also be at risk, so their condition needs to be investigated," Custalow said.
Tiz Willow raced four times in 2018 as a 2-year-old -- at Del Mar, The Big Fresno Fair, and Golden Gate Fields. It was trained by Gary Stute and owned by him, Al Navarro, and Steve Sanora, according to PETA.
Investigators with Solano County were not immediately available to discuss the case.