ARCADIA (CNS/CBSLA) —Santa Anita’s opening weekend reportedly was marred by the death of another racehorse — though the latest fatality happened on Thursday, two days before Saturday’s rescheduled opening day.

Truest Reward, a 3-year-old gelding, died during a period when the track was closed to workouts but open for jogging and galloping, according to the Los Angeles Times, which said the horse broke his left front leg on the training track, considered the safest surface.

Thursday was supposed to be Santa Anita’s opening day, but forecasts of rain prompted track officials to postpone the first day of its 83rd winter meeting until Saturday, when 11 races were run without incident.

Santa Anita — and the sport in general — have faced increasing pressure from animal-rights activists amid the death of at least 38 horses at the track over the last year, which included 2017 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Battle of Midway while training at the track on Feb. 23 and Mongolian Groom, who was euthanized after suffering a fatal injury in the Breeders’ Cup
Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 2.

The California Horse Racing Board is set to issue a report next month on the horse deaths.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office concluded Dec. 19 that there was no criminal wrongdoing connected to the deaths, but offered a series of recommendations aimed at improving safety at racetracks in California.

The district attorney called on state regulators to develop safety enhancements to reduce horse deaths, including possible enhanced penalties for rules violations, establishment of a tip line for people to report violations or animal cruelty allegations and mandated inspections of racing and training facilities, and reviews of necropsy and veterinary records of horses that have
died.

The report also made recommendations aimed at identifying pre-existing conditions in horses that could lead to breakdowns, establishing track-maintenance protocols — including special measures during rain or extreme weather conditions, and creation of “safety codes of conduct” for owners, trainers, jockeys, veterinarians and others who care for horses.

The report noted that officials at Santa Anita have implemented a series of safety-improvement measures that “have reduced the number of fatal racing and training incidents.”

This state-of-the-art technology reflects a new standard of care within Thoroughbred racing — a standard that puts the health and safety of horses and riders first,” said Belinda Stronach, The Stronach Group’s chairman and president.

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