27th horse this season dies at Santa Anita

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ARCADIA, Calif. — Another racehorse has died at Santa Anita Park, officials announced Thursday, marking the 27th death since hte park opened for the season Dec. 26.

The colt River Derby had a catastrophic injury while training Wednesday morning, the Los Angeles Times reports. The 2-year-old horse, which had not raced, fractured a shoulder while galloping and was euthanized at a clinic in Chino.

“I sent her to hospital but there was nothing they could do to save him,” trainer Ruben Gomez told LA Times. “It can be a common injury in babies. He just came up from Florida.”

After six weeks without a death, there have been four fatalities since May 17, according to the newspaper. The most recent came on May 27, when a 9-year-old gelding named Kochees was put down after suffering a leg injury during a race the previous day.

In a letter to the California Horse Racing Board on April 2, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein called for racing to be suspended at the track “until the cause or causes of these deaths can be fully investigated.”

Santa Anita was closed to racing for most of March while authorities studied the racing surface for possible causes contributing to the deaths. Some observers have speculated that this year’s unusual level of rain is playing a role in the fatalities. Santa Anita’s owners brought in national experts to conduct days of testing on the track’s soil, but no problems were found.

Races resumed after the state horse racing board approved a series of safety measures, including limits on certain types of medications administered to horses.

In early April, 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.

Gov. Gavin Newsom supports a new measure working its way through the state legislature that would allow the California Horse Racing Board to act more swiftly to cancel or change dates of existing horse races.

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