Even after revamped safety measures and nearly six weeks without incident, a pair of horses died over the weekend at the Santa Anita racetrack in Southern California, marking the 24th and 25th deaths at the racetrack so far this season, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Spectacular Music was running in his debut event at the track on Sunday and suddenly pulled up on the back stretch. Jockey Jorge Velez took him straight to the barns, where it was determined that the horse suffered an injury to his pelvis, per the report. The horse was then euthanized on Monday morning.
3-year-old Commander Coli was euthanized on Friday after he suffered a shoulder injury while “galloping” in a much less stressful environment, according to the Los Angeles Times. Commander Coli was trained by Marcelo Polanco, who was reportedly asked to vacate his stalls after the gelding’s death. He had five horses at the track, and was also reportedly cited for training a horse on behalf of another person. The Los Angeles Times is unaware if those incidents are related to Commander Coli’s death.
The two deaths brings the total of 25 at the famed racetrack since Dec. 26 — something that sparked the Los Angeles County District Attorney to open an investigation last month. The racetrack closed after the 21st horse died in March and enacted multiple safety changes, which included banning race day medication, transparency of veterinary records, approval for workouts, increased reviews of the dirt and turf surface on the track and committing to purchase new health and safety equipment, among other things.
The track had gone through almost 7,000 timed workouts and race starts without incident before both Commander Coli’s and Spectacular Music’s death, and believes that around 80,000 horses ran since the last horse death on March 31. Only 44 horses died at the racetrack last season, which was called “an exceptionally safe year.”
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