Sidelines with John Clay

Santa Anita resists call for closing track after 28th horse death

Update: The 29th equine fatality at Santa Anita Park on Sunday.

In the wake of the 28th equine fatality at Santa Anita Park since Dec. 26, the California Horse Racing Board recommended the track be shut down. But Santa Anita is resisting.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Santa Anita has denied the request from the board, which oversees racing in the state but does not have the authority to stop racing.

“It is our understanding that Santa Anita management, after consultation with certain other industry stakeholders, believes that for a variety of reasons, the future of California racing is best served by continuing to race,” the board told the Los Angeles Times in a statement.

Formal Dude was euthanized after he took a bad step and was vanned off after the final race on Saturday. It was the sixth fatality since the track re-opened on March 29. Santa Anita was shut down March 3 after 22 horses had died while either training or racing. Unusually wet weather in Southern California had been blamed for possibly changing the surface of the track.

The Santa Anita meet is scheduled to end on June 23 after seven more days of racing. The CHRB must go through a 10-day notification period and process before closing a track.

The board did suggest that Santa Anita remain open for training. Del Mar’s next meet near San Diego is scheduled to begin July 17.

This puts into question Santa Anita as the scheduled host for the Breeders’ Cup on Nov. 1-2. The Breeders’ Cup committee is scheduled to meet June 27 to discuss the issue.

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