Another Horse Dies at Santa Anita, the 25th Horse Death Since December

On Friday, an unraced 3-year-old gelding named Commander Coil suffered a fatal shoulder injury while galloping during training. He was the 24th death at the track since Dec. 26.

A horse injured during a Sunday race at Santa Anita Park was euthanized, becoming the 25th horse fatality at the track since December and the second in the past four days, authorities confirmed Monday.

Spectacular Music, a 3-year-old gelding, sustained a pelvic injury while running his first career race.

"The horse did not fall, but was pulled up at about the half-mile pole at the discretion of jockey Jorge Velez and vanned to receive a comprehensive evaluation by on-site world-class veterinarians," according to a statement from The Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita. "The jockey was not injured. Equine pelvic injuries are rare, and further evaluation is being conducted by the California Horse Racing Board, per protocol, to understand what could have caused this uncommon injury."

On Friday, an unraced 3-year-old gelding named Commander Coil suffered a fatal shoulder injury while galloping during training. His death, the 24th at the track since Dec. 26, was the first since March 31.

"Equine shoulder injuries are rare, especially for a horse that is galloping as opposed to breezing or racing," according to a statement issued Friday by The Stronach Group. "...The Stronach Group remains committed to operating Santa Anita Park with stringent protocols that prioritize the health and safety of horses and riders first and foremost."

Santa Anita was closed to racing for most of March while authorities studied the racing surface for possible causes contributing to the deaths of 23 horses since the current meet began Dec. 26.

Some observers have speculated that last winter's unusual level of rain played a role in the fatalities. Santa Anita's owners brought in national experts to conduct days of testing on the track's soil, but no problems were found.

Races resumed after the state horse racing board approved a series of safety measures, including limits on certain types of medications administered to horses.

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.

Stronach Group officials noted that between April 1 and last week, there were 698 horses starting on the main track and 651 on the turf course without fatalities.

"The Stronach Group is committed to advocating for the health and safety of horses and riders and will continue to work with stakeholders in California and nationally to drive further progress," according to the company.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) issued the following statement on the death:

"Santa Anita's new rules have slowed the bloodbath, and now the track is banning trainers whose actions lead to horses' deaths—including the trainer for Commander Coil, who died on Friday. But two dead horses in three days proves that more must be done to end the training and veterinary practices that lead to broken bones. PETA and Social Compassion in Legislation are currently looking at legislative and other options to stop all horses' deaths, and we urge the district attorney’s office to enlarge its investigation to include the trainers, owners, veterinarian, and jockeys of Commander Coil and Spectacular Music. Santa Anita should suspend racing until stronger measures are enacted."

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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