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On first day racing resumes at Golden Gate Fields a thoroughbred horse dies

Elliott Almond, The Mercury News on

Published in Horse Racing

A 7-year-old gelding died on the day that Golden Gate Fields resumed live racing for the first time since being shut down April 2 in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The thoroughbred Conquest Sabre Cat broke down Thursday near the end of the ninth race while running on the inside rail in third place. Video of the race shows jockey Juan Hernandez being thrown. The horse required euthanasia because of its injuries, said Mike Marten, a California Horse Racing Board spokesman.

"Whether it is the first day or the last day it's a bad feeling," owner John Tipton said Friday of the accident. "It's not going to be happening every day."

Tipton, who owns about a dozen racehorses, said he had yet to talk to trainer Isidor Tamayo about what happened. The video showed Conquest Sabre Cat limping toward the finish line without anyone riding it.

The horse had finished in the money in 20 of its 34 starts, according to Equibase, a racing website. The horse earned $183,760 in its six-year career, Equibase's database showed.

The industry has faced scrutiny in the past year after Santa Anita Park reported 30 racing and training deaths through its season that ended June 6. Activists who want to ban the sport altogether regularly protested at the storied Los Angeles-area track.

Tipton, a horse owner of 35 years from Penngrove, Calif., took issue with those who criticize the sport as animal cruelty.

"These horses are born to run," he said. "They are not born to sit in a stall or a pasture.

"I've sent horses out to a ranch and they hate it out there."

 

Tipton said he watched the final race of the day Thursday from home because owners were not permitted at the track. Racing resumed without spectators, either. Jockeys wore face masks and followed other safety protocols approved by county health officials.

The accident marked the third horse death at Golden Gate Fields this month, CHRB records show. Three-year-old gelding Arky Vaughan and 5-year-old mare Ailish's Buttercup died because of training accidents on May 8 and May 10, respectively.

Ten horses have died at Golden Gate Fields this year in on-track training accidents, records show.

The facility houses about 1,200 horses, who continued to train during the temporary shutdown.

The season opened Dec. 26 and is scheduled to end June 14 with the $250,000 San Francisco Mile Stakes.

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