Santa Anita Makes Changes After Another Horse Dies

The cause of the rash of fatal injuries hasn't been found
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2019 5:18 PM CDT
Santa Anita Makes Changes After Another Horse Dies
Investigators test the dirt track surface at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California, last week.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

A horse died during a workout Thursday at Santa Anita Park, the 22nd death in less than three months at the track outside Los Angeles. The 3-year-old filly, Princess Lili B, was euthanized after breaking both front legs, NBC4 reports. The Arcadia track had just reopened Monday for training; it was closed last week after the 21st death since Dec. 26. The cause of the increase in fatalities has not been determined. Soil samples have been tested—the area has had more rain than usual lately—and the track has been inspected. A year ago, between December and February, 10 horses died at Santa Anita, state data shows. The track averaged around 50 deaths per year from 2008-18. A Santa Anita spokesman tells the Los Angeles Times that 196 horses worked out Wednesday without incident.

Calling the deaths "beyond heartbreaking," the owners on Thursday afternoon announced an overhaul of the track's policies. That includes a ban on race-day medication, more out-of-competition testing, and the purchase of diagnostic equipment to spot pre-existing conditions. In addition, jockeys will be able to strike the horse with a riding crop only as a "corrective safety measure." The track had also announced a series of changes Friday, per NBC4, that included hiring more veterinarians. The owners hope to reopen for racing March 22, but the series of fatal injuries has the industry on edge. "It's mind-boggling to me," trainer Art Sherman, who trained Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome, tells the Los Angeles Times. "I've never seen this as long as I've been around." (California race horses were once freed to flee a wildfire.)

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