ARCADIA, Calif. (CNS) -- A 5-year-old gelding named Chosen Vessel has become the ninth horse to die this racing season at Santa Anita Park.
Chosen Vessel suffered a fracture of the left front ankle Saturday as he approached the far turn during the ninth race. He was taken to the Equine Hospital where, "after diagnostics and X-rays were performed, it was determined to be an unrecoverable injury" and he was euthanized, according to the track website.
The horse was being ridden by jockey Edwin Maldonado and trained by Craig Dollase. His last start was in the San Marcos Stakes on Feb. 1, and he last won on Nov. 3, 2019 in an allowance race at Santa Anita.
At least 45 horses have died at the facility since December 2018, and since then many animal-rights activists have been pushing for an end to horse racing in California.
But officials with the Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita, told City News Service that fewer horses have died at the track this year than last year during the same time frame, and they credited improved safety measures for the decline
TSG stressed that since the current racing season began:
- Horses have raced, worked (had timed workouts) or galloped over the surfaces nearly 74,000 times
- Horses have raced 1,968 times
- 990 horses have raced on the main track
- 978 horses have raced on the turf course
- Horses have worked (had timed workouts) over the main track 5,817 times
- Horses have worked (had timed workouts) over the training track 1,047 times
- Since Dec. 28, 8 horses have died
- 4 were in the afternoon on races on the turf course
- 2 were training in the morning (1 on the main dirt track, 1 on the training track)
- 1 was a probable cardiac event
- 1 was the result of injuries sustained in a collision
"According to the LA DA Task Force report, during the same period last year, from Dec. 28 to March 1, there were 20 equine fatalities involving racehorses at Santa Anita," the statement continued.
Still, animal-rights activists have continued to push for more strict regulation or even an outright ban on the sport, staging frequent demonstrations outside the Arcadia track and elsewhere.
"Last year was no anomaly, not here, not anywhere," organizers with the group Horseracing Wrongs noted on their website. "Horseracing kills horses."
Eight horses have died at Santa Anita since the current racing season began. A ninth horse, Truest Reward, a 3-year-old gelding, fractured his left shoulder on the training track the morning of Dec. 26, two days before the start of the winter meet, which was pushed back from its original Dec. 26 starting day because of rain.