Santa Anita denies request to close despite two more horse deaths

John Cherwa, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Horse Racing

LOS ANGELES -- In an extraordinary move, the California Horse Racing Board asked Santa Anita to cancel the remainder of its season -- now six days -- in the wake of a resumption of horse fatalities over the last few weeks but management of the track said no.

The CHRB is a regulatory agency and does not currently have the power to suspend a race meet or remove race dates without approval of the track. They can take such action if they go through the process of scheduling a meeting with a 10-day notification period and the publishing of an agenda among other procedural hurdles.

The Santa Anita meeting races on Friday through Sunday and closes June 23.

"This would provide the industry more time to fully implement announced safety initiatives and perhaps additional ones," the CHRB said in a statement released after questions from the Los Angeles Times.

While awaiting a public response from Santa Anita, the CHRB said: "It is our understanding that Santa Anita management, after consultation with certain other industry stakeholders, believes that for a variety of reasons, the future of California racing is best served by continuing to race."

Formal Dude, a 4-year-old gelding, was euthanized after sustaining an injury during a mile dirt race on Saturday. The presumptive diagnosis is a pelvis injury, according to Dr. Rick Arthur, the chief equine veterinarian for the CHRB.


Pelvis injuries "can be challenging to diagnose, mostly because the signs can be confused with muscle conditions or other lameness," Arthur said. "With few exceptions, fatal pelvic fractures have pre-existing stress fractures at necropsy."

Truffalino, a 3-year-old filly, was pulled up and cantered toward the finish line before jockey Joe Talamo jumped off. The horse then collapsed and died. Truffalino had a sudden-death episode, according to Arthur.

"The pathologists will attempt to determine the specific cause at necropsy," Arthur said.

The death will be reported as a racing fatality with a notation that it was sudden death.


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