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Last Weekend, 28th and 29th Horses Die at Santa Anita Racetrack

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Officials at Santa Anita Park have refused a request by the California Horse Racing Board to suspend racing at the track for the remaining seven days of the season, after a 28th horse died at the facility since Dec. 26.

River Derby, the 27th horse to die since the meet opened, sustained a catastrophic shoulder injury while training and was euthanized after an unsuccessful surgery.

Derby River, an unraced 2-year-old bought in March for $50,000 at a sale in Florida, suffered a fractured shoulder, according to his trainer Ruben Gomez.

The horse was euthanized in Chino, and it's unclear if it would technically be called a Santa Anita fatality since the colt was euthanized off-site. The California Horse Racing Board hasn't recently dealt with a situation like this.

The horse was euthanized at a clinic in Chino so it was unclear whether the death would technically be called a Santa Anita fatality. However, Mike Marten, California Horse Racing Board spokesman, said "in the interest of full transparency, we will be treating it as an on-track training death and do a full necropsy and count it in the statistics."

Gomez was obviously still pained by the incident when contacted on Thursday. "I sent him to hospital, but there was nothing they could do to save him," Gomez said. "It can be a common injury in babies. He just came up from Florida."

In March 2019, all races were cancelled following the 21st fatality of the winter season; it resumed in late month. Races were postponed so that the dirt surface could be studied. Seven of the 21 deaths occurred during races on the dirt oval with nine happening during training on dirt and the others occurring on the turf track.

Between December 2018 and May 2019, 27 horses died at Santa Anita Park, causing suspension of races for weeks and for the California Racing Commission to consider rule changes.


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