3rd horse in 9 days dies at California’s Santa Anita racetrack, marking 26 fatalities in 6 months
iStock/Nigel Kirby Photography(LOS ANGELES) — Another horse died at Southern California’s prominent Santa Anita racetrack over the weekend, marking the third thoroughbred fatality at the facility in the last nine days, and the 26th fatality since December.
A 9-year-old horse named Kochees sustained a fatal injury to its left front leg during a 5 1/2-furlong race on Saturday, adding to the embattled racetrack’s worries as it works to implement reforms.
“Every attempt was made to save him, but he was euthanized earlier today,” Mike Willman, a track spokesman, told ABC’s Los Angeles station KABC on Sunday.
A pair of 3-year-old geldings sustained fatal injuries in two separate incidents last weekend.
One of the horses, a male called Spectacular Music, sustained a rare injury to the pelvis while racing near the half-mile pole on Sunday, according to the track. The other gelding, Commander Coil, died after sustaining a shoulder injury in a training session on Friday morning, the racetrack revealed Saturday.
Santa Anita Park, owned by the Canadian-based Stronach Group, postponed several races earlier this year and hired respected trackman Dennis Moore to help assess the condition of its main track.
Some experts attributed the cluster of thoroughbred deaths to inclement weather. Southern California had an unusually high amount of rain this past season after many years of drought or near drought, which could have affected the quality of the track.
“Every time it rains, you seal the tracks as hard as it can get. So the water runs off of it,” Clifford Sise, a veteran horse trainer currently working with 15 horses at Santa Anita and other tracks, told ABC News last week. “It would stop raining only three days, where you can really work on it. You need at least seven, eight days to dry out. To go to the bottom of it and the cushion and work on it. It was nobody’s fault.”
At least 26 horses have died racing or training since the track opened for the winter season Dec. 26. The horse deaths prompted several investigations earlier this year, including a task force convened by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office and the California Horse Racing Board.
The three most recent deaths were the first reported since track officials introduced new reforms last month, track officials said.
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