Santa Anita Park wrapped up its 16-day autumn meet without any horse racing or training fatalities, track officials announced Monday.
Just over 1,100 horses raced at the track during the meet that ran from Sept. 25 to Sunday, and more than 51,200 training sessions were recorded, including 3,771 timed workouts over the main track and 487 over the training track since horses returned Sept. 5 from the summer meet at Del Mar, according to Santa Anita officials.
Sixteen horses died in racing or training-related incidents during Santa Anita's winter/spring meet, which wrapped up June 21.
Santa Anita and the sport of horse racing have faced increasing pressure from animal rights activists in connection with the deaths of horses at the track, including 2017 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile winner Battle of Midway while training in February 2019 and Mongolian Groom, who was euthanized after suffering a fatal injury in the Breeders' Cup Classic last Nov. 2.
Officials said Santa Anita's main dirt track has not had a racing fatality this year, including the winter/spring meet which began late last December.
There have been five racing fatalities this year from 5,069 starts, or 0.98 fatalities per 1,000 starters, well below the national average, according to the track.
The autumn meeting results reflect "the efforts of the racing community to put the safety of the horse first at every turn, including additional veterinary regulations and observations, training approvals and analysis of entries," said Aidan Butler, chief operating officer of 1/ST Racing for The Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita Park. "Last year, we set a course to reform the sport of horse racing for the next generation. This year, we are seeing the results of the hard work everyone has put into this effort."
Butler lauded the "dedication of the owners, trainers, veterinarians and hardworking men and women who care for the horses, of the jockeys who have adapted their riding styles, the California Horse Racing Board which regulates the sport, and veteran trackman Dennis Moore and the entire Santa Anita track crew, who tirelessly work the surface day and night with safety top of mind."
"We acknowledged last year that this modernization would likely lead to a short-term impact on Santa Anita's field size, but as these reforms become the national standards, California is ahead of the implementation curve which strengthens the sport in our state," Butler added. "We sincerely thank the bettors who have continued to support our racing product during this transition."