ARCADIA (CBSLA) — Another horse has died at Santa Anita Park. Mongolian Groom, who sustained an injury in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, is the 37th horse to die at the track since last December.
Mongolian Groom suffered an injury in its left hind limb during the last race at the Breeders’ Cup Saturday. He was taken off the track in a horse ambulance.
Prior to the news on Saturday thousands of racing fans passed by about fifty protesters who want the track — and horse racing itself — to come to an end.
“End it,” said protester Heather Wilson, “The sport needs to end and I use that term loosely. This is not a sport. It is a violent enterprise… In what other sport are we celebrating when athletes are not being killed.”
But veterinarians, trainers, and those who care for the track insist they have more strident protocols in place than ever before in an effort to protect the well-being of the horses that race there.
Kristi Foote is among the racing fans who agree: “I believe they are doing everything they possibly can. It’s just a fact of Nature. There is going to be a percentage of animals that get hurt.”
The track has been under extreme scrutiny since the rash of deaths at Santa Anita started garnering more media attention this year than in seasons past.
Animal rights advocates, along with California Sen. Dianne Feinstein and other politicians, have demanded racing stop until an investigation into the exact cause of deaths can be completed.
Racing at Santa Anita was temporarily suspended in February – following the 19th horse death — and again for most of March – following the 21st horse death — so experts could conduct testing on the park’s three tracks – the main, training and turf tracks — to try and pinpoint the issue.
On March 31, just two days after racing had resumed, a 5-year-old gelding named Arms Runner had to be euthanized after being injured during a race when he fell following a collision with another horse while both were transitioning from the turf course to dirt.
In mid-March, Santa Anita officials announced a series of new measures to help bolster the safety of horses at the track, including restrictions on certain medications, requiring trainers to get permission in advance before putting a horse through a workout and investing in diagnostic equipment to aid in the early detection of pre-existing conditions.
In April, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced the creation of a task force to investigate the deaths.