Santa Anita, fatality free for nearly seven weeks, was hit with its second horse death in four days Monday when Spectacular Music was euthanized after injuring his pelvis during Sundays sixth race.
It was the 25th catastrophic injury at Santa Anita since the meeting opened Dec. 26 and the eighth on the main track during live racing. Eleven deaths have occurred during morning training and six over the turf course. One of the deaths was the result of a heart attack.
Spectacular Music, a state-bred gelding, was pulled up shortly after the start of the 6-furlong, $50,000 maiden claiming race by jockey Jorge Velez and had to be vanned off the track to trainer Steve Miyadis barn. Efforts to save the 3-year-old son of Make Music for Me, who was making his first career start, proved unsuccessful.
“They kept the horse overnight and kept him standing up because the problem with horses with pelvis (injuries), when they get down, when they get back up its just like breaking out of the gate,” said Dr. Rick Arthur, chief equine veterinarian of the California Horse Racing Board. “They put a lot of pressure on the pelvis, and (Monday morning) I spoke with the attending veterinarian and the horse was not doing well, was starting to go into shock, so they elected to euthanize the horse.
“The thing you have to remember with the pelvis, its the same thing with people, there are some very big arteries that are right next to the pelvis and oftentimes horses will tear those arteries with bad consequences.
Same thing happens with people in automobile accidents.”
On Friday, Commander Coil, a 3-year-old gelding bred in Colorado, injured his shoulder during a morning gallop and had to be euthanized.
Arthur said of last years 113 fatalities in the state, only four were a result of injuries to the shoulder and five in the pelvis.
Before Friday, Arms Runner was the last fatality at Santa Anita when he was injured during a race down Santa Anitas unique hillside turf course on March 31 and had to be euthanized. There have been no races on the downhill course since the accident.
Commander Coil was injured while jogging, a far less stressful exercise than a timed workout, which is classified as breezing. The Stronach Group, owner of Santa Anita, issued a statement following Fridays fatality that there had been more than 80,000 gallops during training with no new fatalities since new safety measures were instituted March 15 by Belinda Stronach, president and chief executive of TSG.
Arthur said theres no doubt the industry is under closer scrutiny because of the rash of deaths at Santa Anita and likened it to Del Mars 2016 summer season when 17 horses died during its 39-day meet.
“Its almost like a death watch,” he said. “We actually went (more than) six weeks without a significant catastrophic injury, which with as many horses in training and racing that has been going on, thats fairly admirable. Its better than one would have expected ordinarily.
“These things, like plane crashes, they happen in kind of bunches. I thought we were doing a very good job, and I still think we are. But it was never going to be zero and thats just the reality of it.”
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