ARCADIA, Calif. – Nineteen horses have died since late December at Santa Anita Park and it has officials searching for answers, it was reported Tuesday.
Los Angeles Times reported 3-year-old Charmer John went down entering the stretch during training Monday morning. The gelding suffered a catastrophic injury to his left front fetlock and was euthanized.
It was the 19th horse death reported at the racetrack park in Arcadia since the season began December 26.
“So far, six of the fatalities have occurred during dirt racing and five during turf racing. Monday was the eighth death during training, bringing the total to 19. By comparison, last year there were 10 in an equivalent period of time. In 2016-17 there were eight and in 2015-16 there were 14,” the LA Times reported.
Santa Anita officials closed the track Monday to do surface and soil sampling to try to determine whether there are irregularities, the newspaper reported.
Track Superintendent Andy LaRocco, in addition to performing all regularly scheduled maintenance on the dirt oval, will examine the entire track surface and if any issues are found, he will address those areas, race track officials stated.
"Although Santa Anita has experienced 11 ½ inches of rain and near-record cold temperatures this month, dry weather and more moderate temperatures are forecast for the next several days, which will enable LaRocco’s crew to 'peel back' the track’s cushion to a depth of approximately five inches, where a thorough examination of the base can be undertaken."
Many horse trainers, including Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, objected to the closure pressuring the chief operating officer to allow the track to open for timed workouts and exercising.
The next live race was scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday, according to the Santa Anita website.