Santa Anita Park has first horse death of fall meet
A horse that was racing Saturday at California’s Santa Anita Park was injured after a bad step and was euthanized on the track, the 32nd equine death tied to the famed track since December.
Emtech, a 3-year-old colt, had two broken front forelimbs, track owners the Stronach Group said in a news release.
The horse was between competitors in the upper stretch when Emtech took a bad step, according to the race report on Equibase.com.
“As is protocol at Santa Anita, we will open an immediate review into what factors could have contributed to Emtech’s injury,” Stronach Group Chief Veterinarian Dr. Dionne Benson said. “Santa Anita will work closely with the California Horse Racing Board and will continue to brief our stakeholders and all of our constituents, including the public, as more facts come in.
Emtech had raced four previous times in 2019, winning once and finishing in the top three three times. He also won his only race of 2018.
He was trained by Steve Knapp, whose horses have run more than 4,700 races in his career.
It was the second day of racing of the track’s fall meet.
Park closed for evaluation earlier this year
Santa Anita Park closed for evaluation in March after more than 20 horses died in the span of three months.
When it reopened later that month, there were numerous changes: Trainers had to apply two days in advance before working out a horse; jockeys had to replace whips with softer “cushion crops” and restrictions on steroids, anti-inflammation drugs and race-day medications were instituted.
Over the summer, the California Horse Racing Board also began investigating trainers to see if they played any role in the string of horse deaths at the park.
The board had experts examine the remains of the dead horses for clues and worked with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, which launched an inquiry into “whether unlawful conduct or conditions affected the welfare and safety of horses.”
Breeder’s’ Cup will stay in Santa Anita
Thoroughbred racing’s year-end championships will happen at the park as scheduled, the event’s board of directors said in June.
The 2019 Breeders’ Cup World Championships are scheduled for November 1-2 at Santa Anita.
The board unanimously decided to keep the championships in the Southern California park this year after noting “meaningful and effective reforms and best practices have been implemented in recent months at Santa Anita,” the event’s president said.
“We fully embrace those reforms and will devote our time and energy in the coming months to further advance those efforts,” Craig Fravel, Breeders’ Cup president and CEO, said. “We look forward to showing the world the best in thoroughbred racing at one of its finest venues.”
The event is considered one of the sport’s biggest and richest, with about $28 million in prizes doled out across the event’s 14 races last year.
CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian, Wayne Sterling and Christina Maxouris contributed to this report.