ARCADIA (CBSLA) — Animal rights activists are calling for the closure of the Santa Anita racetrack after another horse died Saturday — the 20th such death in the past two months.
The track reopened Sunday after getting the all-clear from inspectors following the death of four-year-old filly Eskenforadrink after getting injured during a race Saturday. Santa Anita had temporarily closed last week after the 19th horse died. Inspectors subsequently ran soil tests and concluded the track was safe.
Eskenforadrink, who was the even-money favorite in Saturday’s third race, suffered an injury to her right front ankle during the race and had to be euthanized, racing officials said. Twenty horses have died at the track while racing or training since Dec. 26.
However, racetrack officials announced later Sunday that this coming Thursday, March 7, races would be canceled due to heavy rain expected in the Southland on Tuesday and Wednesday. The abnormal amount of rain that has fallen over Southern California this winter has been mentioned as a possible factor in the upsurge in horse deaths, with close to a foot of rain falling in February alone.
“One is too many,” said Santa Anita Park Director of Publicity Mike Willman.
He later adding that “safety, equine and human, is our number one party.”
Still, fans left the track with heavy hearts.
“I love the sport, I’ll always love the sport. But every possibility, every nickel should be spent to provide safety to the horses, the animals, the jockeys the trainers and in the sport as a whole,” Paul Scherick said.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is meanwhile calling for the track to close.
A spokesperson for the organization issued a statement reading in part: “Twenty dead horses is 20 too many and the only responsible action is for the track to close immediately to stop this spiral of deaths. The California Horse Racing Board and Santa Anita must do this now, and law enforcement must begin an immediate investigation of trainers and veterinarians to find out if injured horses were being forced to run.”
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)