24th horse death in 5 months at California track Santa Anita

by Samuel Abasi Last updated on May 27th, 2019,

Arcadia, California: A 24th horse has died at Santa Anita, the first since March 31. Commander Coil broke down during training hours Friday, sustaining a shoulder injury while galloping that required the 3-year-old gelding to be euthanized, according to a statement from The Stronach Group, which owns the track.

The statement called it an “uncommon injury.”

The horse had not yet made his racing debut. He was trained by Marcelo Polanco and owned by Jose Romero.

The track had gone six weeks without a horse fatality. Since various reforms involving race-day medication and safety were instituted on March 15, The Stronach Group says there have been over 80,000 gallops during training with no fatalities.

The previous fatality occurred March 31 when Arms Runner fell during a turf race.

A total of 24 horses have died since Dec. 26.

Also Friday, a 3-year-old filly named Congrats Gal collapsed just past the finish line of the Miss Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in Baltimore, a track also owned by The Stronach Group.

No cause of death was immediately announced.

A necropsy will be performed on both horses.

A series of injuries at Santa Anita Park that resulted in horses being euthanized began Dec. 26.

Before Friday, the most recent death happened March 31 after Arms Runner, a 5-year-old gelding, collided with another horse at a dirt crossing during the San Simeon Stakes and suffered fatal injuries, the park said in a statement at the time.

Santa Anita Park on March 5 announced it was suspending racing and training after 21 horses over the course of several weeks suffered injuries that required them to be euthanized, as track officials tried to figure out what was going on.

A 22nd horse was put down following a training accident March 14, prompting the Stronach Group to ban the use of drugs on race days and to sharply limit jockeys’ use of whips.

Racing resumed in late March, and two days later Arms Runner suffered the fatal injury. Santa Anita Park called the death of Arms Runner “a gut-wrenching blow” and said it “speaks to the larger issue of doing all that we can to better understand and prevent such catastrophic injuries, not only at Santa Anita, but throughout California and across the country.”

The Stronach Group said Friday’s incident was the first horse death during training since the reforms were put in place on March 15, and there had 80,000 gallops during training with no fatalities.

Santa Anita Park is in Arcadia, about 20 miles northeast of Los Angeles. It is considered one of the most prestigious venues in horse racing, and the Santa Anita Derby is part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The 2003 movie “Seabiscuit” was filmed there.

Image: Animal-rights advocates protest the deaths of racehorses at the Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia, California, on March 3, 2019.

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