Santa Anita Closed Due To Safety Concerns

Santa Anita Park, California’s premier racing centre, has been closed for racing and training due to continuing safety concerns over horse deaths.

The one-mile main track is to undergo additional extensive testing forcing some of Santa Anita’s biggest races scheduled for this weekend, including the G1 Santa Anita Handicap, G2 San Felipe Stakes and the G2 San Carlos to be postponed.

“The safety, health and welfare of the horses and jockeys is our top priority,” said Tim Ritvo, Chief Operating Officer for the Santa Anita’s owners The Stronach Group.

“While we are confident further testing will confirm the soundness of the track, the decision to close is the right thing to do at this time.”

The Stronach Group has been in constant communication with the California Horse Racing Board and numerous key industry stakeholders who are in full agreement with the decision to suspend racing and training.

The additional testing of the track will be led by veteran trackman Dennis Moore, who returned recently to the track as a consultant.

The testing will include expanding on the ground radar testing conducted earlier this week by the University of Kentucky’s Dr. Mick Peterson.

Measures will include utilizing an Orono Biomechanical Surface Tester, a device that mimics the impacts of a horse running at full gallop allowing engineers to see how the track holds up.

These test results will be evaluated to ensure track consistency and uniformity for both training and racing.

The Stronach Group will also be conducting a comprehensive evaluation of all existing safety measures and current protocols.

There has been a rash of fatalities at Santa Anita since December. Since December 26 there have been 21 fatalities during racing or training.

Santa Anita closed the track last week for four days to let experts examine the surface.

Racing resumed last Thursday and there were no problems until Saturday when a horse broke down during a race. On Tuesday another filly broke down during training and was euthanized.

There were 20 horse fatalities at Santa Anita in 2017 when the track raced for 122 days.

Over the last decade fatalities have ranged from a low of five in 2009 when the track had a synthetic surface to a high of 25 in 2016.
Racing and Sports