24th Horse Dies at Santa Anita Since Dec. 26


ARCADIA (CNS) - An unraced 3-year-old gelding that sustained a fatal shoulder injury while galloping during training became the 24th horse death at Santa Anita Park since the start of its winter meet Dec. 26.

“Equine shoulder injuries are rare, especially for a horse that is galloping as opposed to breezing or racing,” according to a statement Friday from Santa Anita following the death of Commander Coil. “A comprehensive evaluation will be completed to understand what might have caused this uncommon injury.”

The death is the first at the Arcadia track since March 31 when Arms Runner, a 5-year-old, suffered a severe and ultimately fatal injury to his right leg during the Grade 3 San Simeon Stakes on turf, resulting in a two-horse spill.

Racing was suspended at the track for much of March while authorities studied the racing surface for possible causes of the horse deaths. Races resumed after the state horse racing board approved a series of safety measures, including limits on certain types of medications administered to horses.

Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey last month announced the creation of a task force to investigate the deaths of the horses at the track.

In an April 2 letter to the California Horse Racing Board, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., called for racing to be suspended at the track “until the cause or causes of these deaths can be fully investigated.”

“The Stronach Group (the track owners) is fully committed to modernizing our sport in a way that prioritizes the welfare and safety of horses above all,” Santa Anita said in a statement released April 16 in response to Lacey's announcement of the formation of the task force.

“We will work with anyone -- including the District Attorney's Office -- that shares our commitment to this cause.”

In early April, Santa Anita officials announced a series of new measures to help bolster the safety of horses at the track including restrictions on certain medications, requiring trainers to get permission in advance before putting a horse through a workout and investing in diagnostic equipment to aid in the early detection of pre-existing conditions.

Photo: Getty Images

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