On the next-to-last day of racing of the season at Southern California’s Santa Anita race track, yet another horse died following an on-track mishap, making it the 30th overall to die in recent months.
As The Associated Press reported, a 4-year-old gelding was injured on Saturday while exercising on the training track and had to be euthanized. This marked the 30th horse to die since the racing season began on December 26, with the season set to end on Sunday.
After Saturday’s horse death, the track’s ownership group announced that Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer was banned for life from the facilities. The horse that was euthanized following the accident was the fourth from Hollendorfer to die in the string of accidents. Four horses trained by Hollendorfer were scratched from races set to run on Saturday and Sunday, the report noted.
Hollendorfer appeared to be upset at the move. He refused to comment to CNN, telling the news outlet never to call him again. The Hall of Fame owner did issue a statement to the Daily Racing Form defending his record as a trainer.
“I’ve been doing this for almost 40 years and I’ve started more than 33,500 horses that have been under my care in my career. I haven’t, in my opinion, had that many problems,” he said.
Track officials have been baffled as to the cause of the horse deaths, with the facilities shutting down for long stretches during the season as the track and training facilities were studied for any factors that could be causing the fatal injuries. Officials have also implemented a series of measures meant to improve safety, yet the horse deaths continued at a much-elevated rate as the season went on.
A 30th horse has died at Santa Anita on the last weekend of racing at the Southern California track. https://t.co/Nb6hYnrF7A
— AP Sports (@AP_Sports) June 22, 2019
The new changes included a trainer veterinarian who was required to give approval to any horse before entering a race, vouching for its fitness to run. The track also studied the grounds on the track itself and practice facilities to see if it played a role.
It was not clear what the future would hold for the Santa Anita race track amid the spate of horse deaths. Many local leaders and state politicians have called for the track to be closed, but officials have tried to work toward rectifying the problems so it could remain open. The track is scheduled to host one of the most high-profile events in horse racing, the Breeders’ Cup, at the conclusion of its fall racing season.