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Santa Anita racetrack loses two horses in three days, marking 25 fatalities in six months

KARMA ALLEN
Santa Anita racetrack loses two horses in three days, marking 25 fatalities in six months

Santa Anita racetrack loses two horses in three days, marking 25 fatalities in six months originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

Two horses died at Southern California's prominent Santa Anita racetrack over the weekend, marking 25 thoroughbred fatalities there in the last six months.

A pair of 3-year-old geldings sustained fatal injuries in separate incidents on Friday and Sunday as the embattled racetrack works to implement reforms to stem a rash of horse deaths.

One of the horses, a male called Spectacular Music, sustained a rare injury to the pelvis while racing near the half-mile pole on Sunday, according to the track.

PHOTO: Horses continue to die at Santa Anita track in Arcadia, Calif. (KABC )

"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," Santa Anita said in a statement Monday.

(MORE: Another horse dies at Santa Anita racetrack, marking 24 in six months)

"Equine pelvic injuries are rare," it added, "and further evaluation is being conducted by the California Horse Racing Board, per protocol, to understand what could have caused this uncommon injury."

The other gelding, Commander Coil, died after sustaining a shoulder injury in a training session on Friday morning, the racetrack revealed Saturday.

(MORE: Santa Anita cancels horse racing indefinitely after 21st fatality in the less than 3 months)

"Equine shoulder injuries are rare, especially for a horse that is galloping as opposed to breezing or racing," a spokesperson for Santa Anita said in a statement to ABC News. "A comprehensive evaluation will be completed to understand what might have caused this uncommon injury."

PHOTO: Horses continue to die at Santa Anita track in Arcadia, Calif. (KABC )
photo: Vasilika, second from right, with Flavien Prat aboard, draws away in mid-stretch and goes on to win the Grade II, $200,000 Buena Vista Stakes horse race, Feb. 23, 2019, at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. (Benoit Photo via AP, FILE)

Santa Anita Park, owned by the Canadian-based Stronach Group, postponed several races earlier this year and hired respected trackman Dennis Moore to help assess the condition on its main track.

Some experts attributed the cluster of thoroughbred deaths to inclement weather. Southern California had an unusually high amount of rain this past season after many years of drought or near drought, which could have affected the quality of the track.

"Every time it rains, you seal the tracks as hard as it can get. So the water runs off of it," Clifford Sise, a veteran horse trainer currently working with 15 horses at Santa Anita and other tracks, told ABC News Saturday. "It would stop raining only three days, where you can really work on it. You need at least seven, eight days to dry out. To go to the bottom of it and the cushion and work on it. It was nobody’s fault."

At least 25 horses have died racing or training since the track opened for the winter season Dec. 26. The horse deaths prompted several investigations earlier this year, including a task force convened by the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office and the California Horse Racing Board.

PHOTO: Horses are led to paddocks past the Seabiscuit statue during workouts at Santa Anita Park, in Arcadia, Calif., Thursday, March 28, 2019. (Amanda Lee Myers/AP, FILE)

The two recent deaths were the first reported since track officials introduced new reforms last month, track officials said.

(MORE: 20th horse in 2 months dies at Santa Anita racetrack in California)

"Before this catastrophic injury, unprecedented health and safety reforms were introduced at Santa Anita Park. From April 1 to May 18, there have been 698 starters on the main track and 651 starters on the turf course without fatalities," Santa Anita said in its statement Monday.

"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,” it added.

ABC News' Matthew Fuhrman and Soo Youn contributed to this report.