Third horse dies at Santa Anita Park

Antelope Valley Press - - NEWS -

AR­CA­DIA (CNS) — The third horse in three days has died to­day at San­taAnita Park, while an­i­mal rights ac­tivists con­tinue to push for a na­tion­wide ban on rac­ing.

Santa Anita of­fi­cials con­firmed Sun­day that a horse that had been train­ing at the track died, but de­clined to im­me­di­ately share more de­tails.

Tikkun Olam was a fouryear-old who raced nine times, win­ning once, fin­ish­ing sec­ond once and third twice, earn­ing $40,743. He fin­ished sixth in a field of seven in his fi­nal race, a claim­ing race Aug. 28 at Del Mar.

On Satur­day, a four-yearold geld­ing named Un­con­tain­able took a bad step near­ing mid­stretch, and was pulled up and vanned off. The horse suf­fered a “frac­tured right front an­kle,” ac­cord­ing to a post on Santa Anita’s web­site.

“Per rec­om­men­da­tion from the at­tend­ing vet­eri­nar­ian, the horse was hu­manely eu­th­a­nized.”

A six-year-old geld­ing named Harliss was eu­th­a­nized Fri­day af­ter frac­tur­ing his right front an­kle in a race at Santa Anita af­ter fin­ish­ing sev­enth in a field of eight in the sev­enth race. He was also eu­th­a­nized un­der the rec­om­men­da­tion from the at­tend­ing vet­eri­nar­ian.

The three deaths in con­sec­u­tive days brought the num­ber of horse who have died at Santa Anita to at least 42 since De­cem­ber 2018. Five horses have died at Santa Anita since its win­ter/spring meet­ing be­gan Dec. 28.

“Three dead horses in three days re­quires im­me­di­ate ac­tion,” PETA spokes­woman Brooke Rossi said. “The Cal­i­for­nia Horse Rac­ing Board was re­cently given the author­ity, in leg­is­la­tion backed by Gov. Gavin New­som, to sus­pend rac­ing, and now it must do ex­actly that.

“There is no sense in the Board al­low­ing rac­ing and deaths to con­tinue un­til it en­acts all its own pend­ing reg­u­la­tions and acts on the rec­om­men­da­tions of the Los An­ge­les County District At­tor­ney’s of­fice. If it takes the clo­sure of a track to stop the deaths, then close the track.”

Mean­while, of­fi­cials at Santa Anita re­leased a state­ment Satur­day reaf­firm­ing the track ad­min­is­tra­tion’s com­mit­ment to horse safety.

“Santa Anita re­mains com­mit­ted to trans­parency,” it said. “Our safety sta­tis­tics and in­ci­dent re­ports are pub­licly avail­able on our web­site at San­taAnita. com/safety. Home to 2,000 horses, Santa Anita Park is one of the largest equine train­ing fa­cil­i­ties in the

United States. Horses raced or trained at Santa Anita Park more than 420,000 times over the last year with a 99.991% safety rate.”

Santa Anita -- and the sport in gen­eral -- have faced in­creas­ing pres­sure from an­i­mal-rights ac­tivists and elected of­fi­cials since the deaths at Santa Anita started gar­ner­ing me­dia at­ten­tion in early 2019.

The Cal­i­for­nia Horse Rac­ing Board is set to is­sue a re­port soon on the deaths.

The Los An­ge­les County District At­tor­ney’s Of­fice con­cluded Dec. 19 that there was no crim­i­nal wrong­do­ing con­nected to the deaths, but of­fered a se­ries of rec­om­men­da­tions aimed at im­prov­ing safety at race­tracks in Cal­i­for­nia.

“Horse rac­ing has in­her­ent risks but is a legally sanc­tioned sport in Cal­i­for­nia,” District At­tor­ney Jackie Lacey said in a state­ment.

“Greater pre­cau­tions are needed to en­hance safety and pro­tect both horses and their riders.”

The district at­tor­ney called on state reg­u­la­tors to de­velop safety en­hance­ments to re­duce horse deaths, in­clud­ing pos­si­ble en­hanced penal­ties for rules vi­o­la­tions, es­tab­lish­ment of a tip line for peo­ple to re­port vi­o­la­tions or an­i­mal cru­elty al­le­ga­tions and man­dated in­spec­tions of rac­ing and train­ing fa­cil­i­ties, and re­views of necropsy and ve­teri­nary records of horses that have died.

The re­port also made rec­om­men­da­tions aimed at iden­ti­fy­ing pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions in horses that could lead to break­downs, es­tab­lish­ing track- main­te­nance pro­to­cols -- in­clud­ing spe­cial mea­sures dur­ing rain or ex­treme weather con­di­tions, and cre­ation of “safety codes of con­duct’’ for own­ers, train­ers, jock­eys, ve­teri­nar­i­ans and oth­ers who care for horses.

The re­port noted that of­fi­cials at Santa Anita have im­ple­mented a se­ries of safety-im­prove­ment mea­sures that “have re­duced the num­ber of fa­tal rac­ing and train­ing in­ci­dents.’’

Santa Anita re­cently de­buted a PET Scan ma­chine to pro­vide imag­ing of the fet­lock or an­kle joint -- the most com­mon area for in­juries to oc­cur in thor­ough­breds -- without horses hav­ing to un­dergo anes­the­sia, and said it will help to di­ag­nose pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions.

“This state-of-the-art tech­nol­ogy re­flects a new stan­dard of care within Thor­ough­bred rac­ing -a stan­dard that puts the health and safety of horses and riders first,’’ said Belinda Stronach, The Stronach Group’s chair­man and pres­i­dent.

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