Another Horse -- That Makes 22 -- Has Died At Santa Anita Racetrack
Another horse has been euthanized at Santa Anita Park because of an injury sustained during training, bringing the total to 22 horses that have died at the racetrack in less than three months.
According to the Daily Racing Form, Princess Lili B, the horse who died Thursday, broke both front legs after a half-mile workout. The 3-year-old filly was euthanized immediately after.
In response to the death, The Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita Park, released a statement saying that they will be making marked changes in the way they do business -- most notably, by declaring zero tolerance for race day medication. Race day medication is an umbrella term for a number of drugs that are administered on the same day that a horse is racing, but critics have argued they mask underlying injuries and put horses at greater risk for those injuries to become fatal.
"We have arrived at a watershed moment," said Belinda Stronach, The Stronach Group's chairman and president. "The Stronach Group has long been a strong advocate for the abolishment of race day medication, but we will wait no longer for the industry to come together as one to institute these changes. Nor will we wait for the legislation required to undertake this paradigm shift."
Princess Lili B's death marks the second time this year that Santa Anita Park has closed in response to the staggeringly high number of horse fatalities, then reopened only to have more animals sustain fatal injuries.
In February, after 19 horses died on Santa Anita's grounds, the park's main track was evaluated and deemed "100 percent ready" for training and racing by Michael Peterson, director of the University of Kentucky's Agricultural Equine Programs.
This time, the park closed on March 5 after the death of the 21st horse in under three months. Park officials later announced that they brought on trackman and consultant Dennis Moore to evaluate the racetrack's conditions. Four days later, Moore said in a statement that "this track is in outstanding condition, and it's ready for training."
Princess Lili B was fatally injured five days after that statement.
Representatives from the park have not provided a definitive reason for the unusually high number of injuries and deaths. On Monday, spokesperson Mike Willman said that it was likely due to the effect of rain on the soil, but wouldn't confirm.
On Wednesday, representatives from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals staged a protest outside the offices of District Attorney Jackie Lacey, demanding an investigation of the track. That protest was planned prior to the latest fatality.
Following the death of Princess Lili B, training continued at Santa Anita Park.