ARCADIA (CNS) - Lightsaber, an unraced 2-year-old filly, has died while training at Santa Anita Park, making her the 15th horse to die in racing or training related incidents at the racetrack this season.
Lightsaber died Sunday, in what the California Horse Racing Board classified as a training-related death. CHRB spokesman Mike Marten had no further information on what happened to her, and Santa Anita officials did not respond to a request for comment. According to the Los Angeles Times, the horse broke her left hind leg during morning workouts. Attending veterinarians determined the injury as unrecoverable, and the horse was euthanized.
She was owned by Eric Kruljac, according to the industry website Equibase. Kruljac was also her trainer, the Times reported.
The park endured a storm of controversy last year, as 37 horses died in racing or training incidents during the 2018-19 season, causing many animal rights activists to call for an end to the sport in California.
A months-long investigation by state regulators in 2019 found no evidence of illegal medications or procedures, but determined most of the horses had “pre-existing pathology,'' according to a report by the California Horse Racing Board.
The Arcadia racetrack closed for live racing on March 27 in accordance with orders from the health department in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, then reopened for live racing on May 15.
Protocols instituted include mandatory face masks and daily health screening including temperature checks and mandatory “social distancing'' while on the property, increased sanitation procedures, the creation of a “restricted zone'' housing jockeys, valets and other essential personnel who must have a negative COVID-19 test to access, and pre-race protocol to increase physical distancing, according to Santa Anita officials.
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