Santa Anita monitoring safety after latest fatality


BALTIMORE (AP) — The chief operating officer of the group that owns Santa Anita Park said the racetrack will keep monitoring the safety conditions after another death of a horse in training.

A 3-year-old horse broke down with a shoulder injury Friday while galloping and was euthanized at the track in Arcadia, California. It’s the 24th horse fatality in racing or training there since Dec. 26. It’s the first since March 31.

“The numbers at Santa Anita the last two months were really good until (Friday),” Stronach Group COO Tim Ritvo said Saturday. “It’s an unfortunate incident that we continue to look and study to see what we can do better all the time.”

A filly also collapsed and died at Stronach Group-owned Pimlico Race Course on Friday, the day before the Preakness. Word of the death at Santa Anita reached the racing circles of Pimlico.

In a statement released Friday, the Stronach Group called “an uncommon injury” to Commander Coil, who had not yet made his racing debut. Ritvo says 240 horses worked out Saturday morning without incident and racing is on again for Santa Anita in the afternoon.

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“We’re on top of it,” Ritvo said. “It’s critical to us. We understand the position that we’re in and the industry’s in, so we take everything very serious. It’s very serious.”

Since various reforms involving race-day medication and safety were instituted on March 15, The Stronach Group said there’d been more than 80,000 gallops during training with no fatalities.

California Horse Racing Board spokesman Mike Marten recently said Santa Anita instituted medication limits and provided additional track veterinarians to monitor training hours. The board also increased veterinarian, steward and investigator staffing time.

Ritvo said the goal is to expand those reforms to other Stronach Group tracks.

Santa Anita Park is scheduled to host the Breeders’ Cup Nov. 1-2. Ritvo expressed no concerns about staging what’s considered the biggest two-day event in U.S. horse racing.

“We feel this track is probably one of the safest racetracks in America right now with the protocols in place and the material and looking at everything and as cautious as we are,” Ritvo said. “We work with our industry partners. The Breeders’ Cup is really comfortable from all the talk, the things we’ve done. We look forward to it getting there.”


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