A 3-year-old colt was euthanized on Santa Anita Park’s dirt track after breaking two front forelimbs in the eighth race Saturday on the second day of its autumn racing meet.
Emtech was evaluated immediately after breaking down by a team of on-track veterinarians, led by Santa Anita Park veterinarian Dr. Dana Stead, according to The Stronach Group, the track’s owner.
Stead observed that Emtech had two broken front forelimbs and made the decision to humanely euthanize the colt.
Jockey Mario Gutierrez was uninjured.
“As is protocol at Santa Anita, we will open an immediate review into what factors could have contributed to Emtech’s injury,” said Dr. Dionne Benson, chief veterinarian for The Stronach Group.
“Santa Anita will work closely with the California Horse Racing Board and will continue to brief our stakeholders and all of our constituents, including the public, as more facts come in.”
Emtech will undergo a necropsy at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, as is mandatory for all on-track accidents, Benson said.
“The accident and the necropsy report will be reviewed by a team to learn what, if anything, could have been done to have prevented the accident,” Benson said.
Emtech had two victories, a second-place finish and a third-place finish in his five races before Saturday. He won his most recent race before Saturday, a 5 1/2-furlong race at Los Alamitos Race Course Sept. 14.
Santa Anita Park is under unprecedented scrutiny over safety concerns after 30 fatalities in the track’s winter-spring meeting.
The 4-year-old gelding Zeke was euthanized Sept. 16 after being diagnosed with a pelvic fracture after being pulled up while working on Santa Anita Park’s training track, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“The Stronach Group and Santa Anita safety measures put horse and rider safety above all else,” the statement from The Stronach Group said. “There is an expected level of safety and accountability that is required to participate at a Stronach Group racetrack.
“If anything less is found which could have contributed to this incident, it will be addressed immediately. Santa Anita and The Stronach Group remain committed to leading transformative change in this traditional sport.”
PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo on Saturday called on Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey “to release the findings on the culpability of trainers and veterinarians who may have used drugs, knee joint injections, and other dangerous methods to keep injured horses racing.”
Lacey created a task force in April of what she described as “experienced deputy district attorneys and sworn peace officers with varied expertise within my office” to “thoroughly investigate and evaluate the evidence to determine whether unlawful conduct or conditions affected the welfare and safety of horses at Santa Anita Park.”
Said Guillermo: “Tragically, we have no answers, no mandate for the use of CT scan technology to detect the preexisting injuries that cause broken ankles, no switch to safer synthetic tracks which PETA has requested and no end in sight to the deaths.”
“The horses may not get a funeral, but racing is certainly digging its own grave,” Guillermo said.