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High Horse Deaths Close Santa Anita Park
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High Horse Deaths Close Santa Anita Park
on 11 March 2019
The Calfornian track has been closed with immediate effect following a number of horse fatilities

In the last ten weeks, 21 horses have died as a direct result of using the Californian track. With such a devastating death toll Santa Anita Park has been closed indefinitely by the owners with all racing suspended with immediate effect. looks at what has happened and what action is to be taken. The closure has prevented both the Santa Anita Handicap and the San Felipe Stakes being run.

The track will now be subject to more than one investigation as the real race begins, to identify what has gone so badly wrong that 21 animals have lost their lives here in such a short period of time. The Los Angeles venue will be a hotbed of activity as a study commissioned by the owners commences.

Dennis Moore, one of the former track superintendents, has been taken with studying the surface of the track. At the same time, the California Horse Racing Board will be carrying out their own investigations with the owners Stronach Group’s Chief Executive stating "The safety, health and welfare of the horses and jockeys is our top priority. We feel confident in the track, and we're just being very proactive. We want to do all the testing that needs to be done, and when we believe we're in good shape, we'll start to train over it again.”

The last victim of the cursed track is Lets Light the Way, the four-year-old filly suffered an injury to her front right leg on Tuesday and was later put to sleep after vet advice. This was a training event, and she was not actively being race, and eight other deaths occurred when in training rather than racing. The 2017 Breeders Cup Winner, Battle of Midway also lost his life in the same way.

After every death, the track was checked and tested, and the owners are at a loss to explain what might be going wrong. With 21 deaths this is one track that has been examined and analysed over and over, and nothing has been found leading the track to be deemed safe to race again every time.

The University of Kentucky has a team of track safety experts, and they have attended the track on more than one occasion. Mick Peterson confirmed that they could not explain the dramatic rise in fatal accidents and there were no potential irregularities. His last visit after the 19th death concluded with the track being opened again and devastatingly almost immediately Eskenforadrink suffering problems and pulled up during a race, and was later euthanised.

The California Horse Racing Board were asked to offer an opinion on the problem before they begin their investigation and equine medical director Rick Arthur spoke out “While the investigations needed to be carried out factor like heavy rains, a depleted horse population and impatience on the part of trainers and racetrack officials to get the most out of limited stock can not be overlooked. Some people haven’t been as cautious as they should have on both sides.”

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