23rd Race Horse Dies at Santa Anita Since December 26

A 23rd horse fatality has occurred at Santa Anita since Dec. 26 when Arms Runner fell on the dirt crossover portion of the hillside turf course Sunday and was later euthanized. La Sardane, who was behind Arms Runner, couldn’t avoid the fallen horse, tripped and went to the ground, but got right back up.

The death was confirmed by Dr. Rick Arthur, equine medical director of the California Horse Racing Board.

The jockeys Martin Pedroza, aboard Arms Runner, and Ruben Fuentes were believed to have sustained no more than bumps and bruises although they were taken off their remaining mounts.

The accident occurred in the feature race of the day, the Grade 3 $100,000 San Simeon Stakes, a 6 1/2 furlong turf race that starts at the top of a hillside and has a crossover point on dirt. The spill happened just as the horses were about to re-enter the turf portion of the course. It appeared that Arms Runner injured his right front leg.

Since the day after Princess Lili B became the 22nd fatality at Santa Anita on March 14, when she broke both front legs in training and was euthanized, there have been 2,483 timed workouts without a life-threatening incident. There were no incidents in Friday’s racing when 62 horses ran or on Saturday when 84 raced. Sunday’s incident was in the fourth of a nine-race card.

Arms Runner is trained by Peter Miller and owned by Rockingham Ranch.

Santa Anita had just re-opened Friday after being shuttered since March 4. Despite extensive testing of the dirt course, there was no known cause for the spike in deaths. Ten of the fatalities have occurred during training on the main dirt surface. There have been seven deaths racing on the dirt. This would make the sixth fatality during a turf race.

The sport has been under siege because of the recent spike in deaths.

In an effort to boost public confidence, Belinda Stronach, chief executive officer of The Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita, Golden Gate Fields and other tracks, announced an initiative that would eventually eliminate race-day medication. It was approved by the California Horse Racing Board on Thursday and implemented on Friday. The Golden Gate track, where only five deaths had occurred through early March, is synthetic.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Los Angeles Times, by John Cherwa