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Santa Anita Park Closes Indefinitely After 21st Horse Dies In Under Three Months

The 2014 Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Nov. 1, 2014 in Arcadia. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
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Last night, Santa Anita Park announced that it would close down its facilities for both horse racing and training in the wake of the 21st horse death in under three months. The horse in question, Lets Light The Way, was a four-year-old filly who suffered a shattered sesamoid, or a bone in the knee or the foot. She was euthanized on Tuesday.

In response to KPCC's request for information about the horse's death, the park's director of publicity provided a statement on Tuesday announcing that Santa Anita Park retained a track consultant who "will be on-site this afternoon as an precautionary measure with regard to the condition of the one mile main track."

The statement contained no mention of Lets Light The Way's death, or the death of the other 20 horses.

Another statement, published on the park's website on Tuesday, noted that the track will undergo "extensive testing," and that all races scheduled for this weekend are off.

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"The safety, health and welfare of the horses and jockeys is our top priority," said Tim Ritvo, Chief Operating Officer of The Stronach Group, which owns the track, in the statement.

Horse deaths at tracks across the state are detailed in the California Horse Racing Board's annual report.

According to the report, in fiscal year 2017-2018, 44 horses died at Santa Anita Park -- 20 while racing, 17 while training, seven from other cause like gastrointestinal, respiratory and neurological diseases.

That same report notes that musculoskeletal injuries, such as the one suffered by Lets Light The Way, are the leading cause of death at the facilities they monitor. They account for about 80 percent of all fatalities.

Santa Anita Park has not announced when it might reopen to the public.

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