The fabled race track has suffered the loss of 21 horses since December
By Terry Miller
The Stronach Group Tuesday announced the closure of Santa Anita Park for live racing and training effective immediately while the one-mile main track undergoes additional extensive testing.
This decision comes in the wake of the deaths of 21 horses at Santa Anita since December and has prompted Santa Anita Park to announce that highly respected Trackman, Dennis Moore, has been retained as a consultant and will be on-site this week as a precautionary measure with regard to the condition of the one mile main track. Officials believe the heavy February rains may have contributed to the loss of the thoroughbreds while racing and training on the one mile track.
Moore, 69, who has more than 46 years of experience working with racing surfaces in California and worldwide, served as Santa Anita Track Superintendent from 2014 until his retirement this past Dec. 31. Currently employed as Track Superintendent at both Del Mar and Los Alamitos, Moore was chiefly responsible for providing Santa Anita with the “El Segundo sand” which was installed here to universal acclaim in 2014.
On Saturday several members of the community staged a peaceful but vocal protest outside the gates of track claiming the sport of horse racing is inhumane and ultimately kills young horses.
“The safety, health and welfare of the horses and jockeys is our top priority,” said Tim Ritvo, Chief Operating Officer, The Stronach Group. “While we are confident further testing will confirm the soundness of the track, the decision to close is the right thing to do at this time.”
The Stronach Group has been in constant communication with the California Horse Racing Board and numerous key industry stakeholders who are in full agreement with the decision to suspend racing and training.
The additional testing of the track will be led by veteran Trackman Dennis Moore, expanding on the ground radar testing conducted earlier this week by the University of Kentucky’s Dr. Mick Peterson. Measures will include utilizing an Orono Biomechanical Surface Tester, a device that mimics the impacts of a horse running at full gallop allowing engineers to see how the track holds up. These test results will be evaluated to ensure track consistency and uniformity for both training and racing.
Further, The Stronach Group will be conducting a comprehensive evaluation of all existing safety measures and current protocols.