ARCADIA—The Santa Anita Park racetrack was closed on Tuesday, March 4 after 4-year-old filly, Let’s Light the Way, was euthanized after suffering an injury during competition.

Four days earlier another horse name Eskenforadrink, opened 3rd race, suffered life threatening injuries to her ankle and the 4-year-old thoroughbred was also euthanized on March 2.

The Santa Anita Park indicated in a press release that track man Dennis Moore start extensive testing and a thorough review of the one-mile main track at Santa Anita on Thursday, March 7. 4More has over 46 years of experience working with racing surfaces in CA and worldwide, served as Santa Anita Track Superintendent from 2014 until his retirement on December 31, 2018.

Santa Anita Park Officials noted that wet winters play a factor in the spike of horse injuries and deaths. Protesters, animal activists, and organizations like ‘Last Chance for Animals,’ expressed opinions in the fatalities and unknown practices on Sunday, March 3.

Demonstration signs wavered outside the park stating,”Horse Racing Kills” and “Thousands of horses continue to be killed in the name of sports.”

Worldwide organizations like People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) claimed the horses are overworked. The organization demanded accountability to the district attorney including law enforcement to investigate, the trainers, jockeys, and veterinarians verifying if tragedies match what track officials also concluded.

Tim Ritvo, Chief Operating Officer, of the Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita, told reporters, “The safety, health and welfare of the horses and jockeys is our top priority, while we are confident further testing will confirm the soundness of the track, the decision to close is the right thing to do at this time.” Ritvo added, “All races scheduled for this weekend would be rescheduled.”

“As horse lovers first and foremost, we are deeply saddened by the losses experienced over the past several weeks. The loss of just one horse is one too many. While we can’t prevent every injury, we can’t overemphasize that the health and welfare of the horses and jockeys is our top priority,” said Ritvo. “The track will be closed for live racing and training until our outside experts confirm the soundness of the track and let us know that it is safe to resume racing.”

Santa Anita Park is set to host the Breeders’ Cup on November 1 and November 2, 2019. The park has held multiple Breeders’ Cup World Championships in the past. 

Officials at Santa Anita Park have been in communication with the California Horse Racing Board and key stakeholders who support the decision to close the track to conduct additional testing of the track, review current protocols and existing safety measures. All horses who stable at Santa Anita will remain on site, and Santa Anita will remain open to the public for simulcast.

Written By Sanestina Hunter and Donald Roberts