Another Horse Dies At Santa Anita Track Just Days After It Re-Opens Following Investigation Of 20 Horse Deaths

A photo of an empty Santa Anita racetrack.
Mario Tama / Getty Images

Just days after the Santa Anita race track opened following an investigation of 20 horse deaths in three months, another horse has died in a tragic accident.

On Thursday, a 3-year-old filly named Princess Lili B suffered an injury while working out just after 9 a.m., Santa Anita officials told NBC News. The track has now suffered 21 horse deaths since Christmas, and officials immediately canceled races, including the $600,000 Santa Anita Handicap.

Officials had suspended racing on the track on March 5 to investigate what was behind the rash of catastrophic injuries being suffered by thoroughbreds and come up with a plan to address the deaths.

The track had just reopened on Monday for what officials said was “limited training” and included new safety protocol that officials said they hoped would curb the horse deaths. At the time, track officials said they were still limiting activity until it was deemed safe for racing to begin again.

“Santa Anita’s main track will remain closed for live racing until outside experts let us know that it is safe to resume racing,” said Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer of The Stronach Group, which owns the track (via NBC News).

The changes included the creation of an “equine welfare position” to oversee the well-being of horses and to respond to injuries, the report noted. The track also hired more veterinarians, including ones who would watch over training for signs of stress or ill-health.

The NBC News report noted that Santa Anita had a number of fatal accidents in previous years, with 10 during the same time period in 2017-18, 11 in that period in 2016-17, and 16 in 2015-16. But now the more than 20 horses that have died since Christmas has prompted concern among track officials and outrage from animal rights activists, who have called for the end of racing at the track. These activists claimed that horses were being overmedicated and not allowed proper time to recover from injuries.

Not long after the announcement on Thursday that another horse had died, protesters gathered outside the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office demanding an investigation into how the latest death took place.

Thursday’s horse death prompted new calls for Santa Anita to cease horse racing, though track officials have not yet announced how they plan to respond. The company that owns the track also announced it would be making a major announcement in the hours after the horse death on Thursday, but did not signal what it might entail.