PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Protesters were out at Turf Paradise for opening weekend amid controversy in horse racing throughout the U.S.

The track had its opening day on Saturday and there's been a lot of controversy in horse racing after several deaths have been reported at the Santa Anita, California race track and in the Phoenix area.

[WATCH: Phoenix-area group protests horse racing outside Turf Paradise]

Arizona's Family spoke to people on both sides of the issue at Turf Paradise.

"We just noticed lately there's been a lot of negative happening in our industry," said horse breeder and trainer Stacey Campo. "We want to have our side heard that these horses are very, very are cared for."

"We are here to speak out for every one of those horses that are dying in something that people are trying to call a sport," said Dawn Shepley with Run Free Arizona. "We feel if it's a sport, they should have a choice."

[RELATED: Turf Paradise implements new protocols after spike in horse fatalities during 2017-18 race season]

"Horses to us, they're family, so when of them gets injured or is sick or suffers a fatality, it affects the community of racing," said Turf Paradise General Manager Vince Francia.

Francia told Arizona's Family that Turf Paradise respects the protestors' rights to voice their opinion.

Francia said the track started new horse safety protocols last season to keep its horses healthy.

[RELATED: Turf Paradise to soon give pre-race vet exams to all horses]

This includes track veterinarian pre-race examination of horses, testing the sand/dirt on the track and reviewing death reports.

Francia said horse deaths were reduced by 40% last season compared to the previous season.

 


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