U.S. NEWS

Santa Anita Racetrack Sees Its First Horse Death Of The New Year

Golden Birthday was the 39th horse to die at the embattled California park in a little more than a year.

California’s Santa Anita racetrack kicked off the new year on Wednesday with another horse death, the 39th in a little more than a year.

A 4-year-old gelding named Golden Birthday sustained a fractured hind leg while competing in a turf race and was euthanized, the park said.

The horse’s death came nearly a week after a 3-year-old gelding named Truest Reward was euthanized after breaking a front leg on the Arcadia park’s training track.

The park’s winter-spring meet opened on Saturday, drawing in more than 35,000 spectators, organizers had said.

Opening day horse racing is seen at California's Santa Anita Park on Saturday, Dec. 28.
Opening day horse racing is seen at California's Santa Anita Park on Saturday, Dec. 28.

The racetrack has been under heavy scrutiny over its high number of horse fatalities that began at the start of its previous season on Dec. 29, 2018. The park has in response highlighted the large number of horses that have visited its park, which is one of the largest equine training facilities in the world, as well as the enhanced safety measures it has put in place.

Those measures include new racing and training protocols and the establishment of a new racing safety coalition. The park is also due to receive new machines that will be able to scan horses for preexisting conditions.

Track workers are seen treating Mongolian Groom after the Breeders' Cup Classic horse race at Santa Anita Park in November. T
Track workers are seen treating Mongolian Groom after the Breeders' Cup Classic horse race at Santa Anita Park in November. There have been 39 horse deaths at the park over the last year.

The Los Angeles District Attorney also launched a criminal investigation into possible misconduct at the park but late last month determined that there was no supporting evidence of such conduct.

With new horse deaths continually being reported, however, many animal activists are saying enough is enough.

“2020 should be the year that either the deaths stop or horse racing does,” the organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said in a statement in response to Wednesday’s horse fatality. “Right now, racing must be suspended. California officials have made substantial improvements to protect horses, but they’re not done yet.”