The owners of Santa Anita Park in Los Angeles have placed an indefinite ban on racing after 21 horses have died at the track in the space of ten weeks.
Racecourse owners have hired former track superintendent Dennis Moore to help lead a study of its dirt surface. Moore, who has more than 46 years of experience working with racing surfaces in California and worldwide, previously served as Santa Anita Track’s Superintendent from 2014 until his retirement in December 2018.
The California Horse Racing Board, which oversees licence provision across the state, is also assisting in the investigation.
Speaking about the matter Tim Ritvo, chief executive of owners of the Stronach Group, commented: “The safety, health and welfare of the horses and jockeys is our top priority.
“We feel confident in the track and we’re just being very proactive. We want to do all the testing that needs to be done, and when we believe we’re in good shape, we’ll start to train over it again.”
Tests have been carried out on the track in recent weeks, but results have come back inconclusive. The track was subsequently cleared to continue racing.
The most recent death at the track was that of Lets Light the Way, a four-year-old filly that was put down after sustaining an injury to its front right leg while racing on the track. It was the ninth death that had arisen following an injury, a toll which also includes 2017 Breeders’ Cup winner Battle Of Midway.
Statistics have shown that the number of fatalities has almost doubled in the last year, with five horses having died on the turf, and seven on the course’s dirt track.
The racecourse was expected to host its Santa Anita Handicap and the San Felipe Handicap, but this is currently on hold while the investigation is ongoing.