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.)

Comments (6)
  1. John Hardesty says:

    The horse world of racing doesn’t care, their greed supersedes their apathetic hearts. These poor horses didn’t wish to be here for the amusement of cruelty!

    1. Ron Wilson says:

      I agree completely. Horse racing is indeed cruelty to animals. Don’t believe, even for a minute that the promoters give a darn about these horses! THEY DON’T!

  2. Agreed! I used to go to Pimlico Race Track in Baltimore, but my feelings about horse racing changed when I learned about all the steroids and injuries and deaths in horse racing. Most people have heard about these poor horses by now, and about Barbaro, Eight Belles, Big Brown and other famous horses who have suffered because of the racing industry, but lots of other horses don’t even make headlines–they’re just quietly shipped to slaughter. There’s nothing “sporting” about a pastime in which animals routinely suffer and die.

  3. Kim Marie says:

    More horses will die if they’re forced to race because that’s what’s happens in this vicious industry. It’s time for society to evolve and stop using animals like money-making commodities.

  4. 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.

  5. One death is too many, and twenty is FAR too many. It’s time this track closed and it’s time people realize that horse racing is not entertainment, it’s pure misery for the horses drugged, abused and forced to run.

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