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Arcadia’s Santa Anita Main Track to Reopen Today After Rash of Fatalities

Santa Anita has experienced 11.5 inches of rain and near-record cold temperatures this month which experts believe contributed to recent racehorse deaths. – Photo by Terry Miller/Beacon Media News

19 horses have died at Santa Anita Race Track since December 2018

By Terry Miller

The main track will reopen for training on Thursday, Feb. 28. “We feel it is prudent to wait another day in order that we can more thoroughly analyze soil samples and make any adjustments, if necessary,” said Mike Willman, spokesman for Santa Anita Race Track.

One day after Santa Anita announced it was closing the track Monday and Tuesday for surface and soil sampling amid a rash of racehorse deaths, another horse died during training Monday morning, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Horse racing is a noble sport but also a precarious one for jockeys as well as the thoroughbreds they ride whether in a race or training.

The death of any horse is very heartbreaking at Santa Anita. The latest victim, Charmer John, a 3-year-old gelding, was euthanized after he suffered a catastrophic injury to his left front fetlock. He was the 19th horse death at Santa Anita since Dec. 26, according to the Times.

A statement from Santa Anita Tuesday said:

“Although Santa Anita has experienced 11.5 inches of rain and near-record cold temperatures this month, dry weather and more moderate temperatures are forecast for the next several days, which will enable LaRocco’s crew to ‘peel back’ the track’s cushion to a depth of approximately five inches, where a thorough examination of the base can be undertaken.

“Mick Peterson, PhD, who serves as director of the University of Kentucky’s Agricultural Equine Programs, and who evaluates soil samples from Santa Anita on a monthly basis, will be on-site in the coming days to review Santa Anita’s sub-surface and surface data. Peterson will also be working with a newly formed committee consisting of Hall of Fame retired jockey Alex Solis, who is now a CHRB commissioner, one well-established Southern California trainer, one active jockey and one member of Santa Anita’s management team to fully evaluate all data and monitor feedback from horsemen, including trainers, jockeys and exercise riders.

“Santa Anita’s main track surface, which is tested and evaluated on a daily basis by both Santa Anita and the CHRB, is one mile in circumference, with quarter mile and seven furlong chutes located to the southwest and northeast of the ‘course proper.’

“Live racing will resume as planned, Thursday, Feb. 28, with first post time at 1 p.m.”

It remains to be seen what the California Horse Racing Board will determine after the latest death at Santa Anita, but suffice to say it is a solemn issue that owners, breeders and track officials take very seriously and do their best to avoid injuries to the horses and jockeys.

The abnormal amount of rain that has fallen over Southern California this winter is a contributing factor.

February 28, 2019

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Terry Miller


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