ARCADIA (CBSLA) – Yet another horse died at the Santa Anita race track in Arcadia Monday morning, bringing the death toll to 19. Officials shut down the main track to racing through at least Tuesday to attempt to diagnose what may be causing the problem.

Charmer John, a 3-year-old gelding, had to be euthanized Monday after suffering an injury to his left front fetlock, according to the Los Angeles Times. He is the nineteenth horse to die at the track while racing or training since Dec. 26, according to the Times.

Horses workout on the training track at Santa Anita. Feb. 26, 2019. (CBS2)

On Sunday, Santa Anita announced that it would be closing the main track beginning at 9 a.m. Monday and all day Tuesday in order to “fully evaluate sub-surface conditions such as moisture content and soil consistency.”

The training track, however, will be open through 10:30 a.m. all week.

According to the Times, Santa Anita’s owner — The Stronach Group — allowed the main track to be open until 9 a.m. Monday for early-morning workouts after several trainers objected to its closure. 121 horses trained on it during that time, the Times reports.

Santa Anita brought in Dr. Mick Peterson, director of the University of Kentucky’s Agricultural Equine Programs, to lead the evaluation and tests.

Experts will look at whether the heavy rainfall which has fallen across the region over the past few months has factored into the death toll. Santa Anita has so far received 11 ½ inches of rain this season.

Track Superintendent Andy LaRocco and his crew will be peeling back the track’s cushion to a depth of five inches to do the examination.

During this same two-month period in the 2017-18 season, 10 horses died at Santa Anita. Eight died in the 2016-17 season and 14 died during the 2015-16 season, the Times reports.

The track is expected to be back open for training on Wednesday and live racing on Thursday.

Comments (26)
  1. Lucy Shelton says:

    Shameful and disgusting! What does it take to end horse racing? In this big business about 24 horses die per week on U.S. tracks. They’re under the whip and driven beyond their limits. Thousands of horses are bred annually to get the best/fastest horse; hence thousands of horses end up being slaughtered. The horses are raced too young (2-years old) and they haven’t fully developed. Drugs are used to mask sores and injuries. These beautiful, sentient beings should not be used for entertainment and greed.

    1. Charlee McWhirter says:

      I agree too the track should be held both civilly and criminally liable!

  2. Ron Wilson says:

    I agree. Horse racing is cruelty to animals…

  3. tli74 says:

    Thank you. I’m glad they are taking the time to test things, figure things out. People are too quick to judge. 🙁 without out being there

  4. Susan C. Ragan says:

    Why the hell does no one address the fact that they run the horses too young before their legs are totally formed? In Europe they wait until they’re three to run them as hard as they can! Americans are so greedy, Doesn’t ANYONE admit this? So when they’re babies and run on a bad track, of course they die.

  5. Elaine Jones Garza says:

    I was listening to tv news recently and was utterly disgusted hearing a comment from a horse owner. He said in so many words that these horses were born to run and if they died, well that is part of the sport. Cold, cruel and corrupt.

  6. Jennofur OConnor says:

    Drugging horses leads to dead horses. It’s as simple – and fixable – as that.

  7. Craig Shapiro says:

    That’s 19 more reasons to stop drugging horses.

  8. Paula Renee says:

    The rampant misuse of drugs to mask horses’ injuries and enhance their performance is shameful. Horses deserve better than to be pumped full of drugs and forced to race when they are sore or injured.

  9. This is terrible. No living being should have to endure such painful misery. It’s time horse racing was officially abolished.

  10. Barry Brisco says:


  11. Dawn Panda says:

    Y’all do know that the winning horses are drug-tested, right? While there are certainly those who try to get away with it, the vast majority of trainers wouldn’t consider risking it.

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