CULTURE 23rd horse death rocks Santa Anita

CULTURE

23rd horse death rocks Santa Anita

AFP

04:14, April 02, 2019

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Samples and measurements being taken on March 7 on the dirt track at Santa Anita Racetrack, where 23 horses have died since December 26, 2018. (Photo: AFP)

Santa Anita Racetrack was rocked by a 23rd equine death in just over three months on Sunday as gelding Arms Runner was euthanized after a fall in the $100,000 San Simeon Stakes.

The spill came on just the third day of racing after the picturesque track northeast of Los Angeles reopened following the suspension of competition on March 5 for a safety review.

During the Grade Three turf face, five-year-old Arms Runner injured his right front leg and fell on the odd section at Santa Anita where the turf track crosses the main dirt track.

After Arms Runner went down he was tripped over by La Sardane, a mare that was able to regain her feet and appeared to be uninjured.

Rick Arthur, equine medical director of the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB), said Arms Runner was later euthanized.

Jockeys Martin Pedroza, aboard Arms Runner, and Ruben Fuentes suffered minor injuries.

"While this incident happened during competition on a track that has been deemed by independent experts to be safe," Santa Anita said in a statement, "we are working closely with the (CHRB) to understand if there was anything additional that we could have done to prevent (Sunday's) tragedy."

Turf races at Santa Anita start at the top of a hill which brings runners through a sweeping righthand turn before they cross the main dirt track prior to hitting grass again.

Arms Runner was several strides from hitting the main grass track surface when he fell.

Santa Anita is due to host the prestigious Breeders' Cup international meeting in November.

It had resumed racing on Friday after shutting down its competition schedule while officials tried to find an explanation for why 22 horses had died at the track since December 26.

Extensive tests of the surface and subsurface of the dirt track -- where 10 training and seven racing fatalities have occurred -- found no apparent cause for the increase in breakdowns, which have also occurred on the turf track and which have sparked criticism from animal rights groups.

Earlier this month Santa Anita owners the Stronach Group announced an initiative aimed at eliminating race-day medication for horses, including the diuretic Lasix which is used to prevent pulmonary bleeding.

California racing authorities last week approved the measure, which starts with a reduction in the amount of Lasix allowed. The United States and Canada are the only countries that allow medication to be administered to horses on race day.

Stronach Group is also seeking a rule outlawing the use of whips except to protect the safety of a horse or jockey, although California racing authorities have yet to approve the measure.


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