Two horses died after the first race at Los Alamitos Race Course Saturday, adding to the death toll in a year that has seen increased scrutiny of the sport in Southern California.

According to official Los Alamitos racing results, Mighty Elijah — a 4-year-old gelding — “weakened between horses in the lane, was injured and pulled up inside the furlong marker and was vanned off,” while Into a Hot Spot — a 4-year-old bay gelding — “broke out and bumped a rival at the start, was hustled along early, fell back into the turn, gave way and collapsed after being unsaddled.”

The deaths were first reported by the Los Angeles Times. Efforts to reach Los Alamitos officials were not immediately successful.

Mighty Elijah was trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, the 73-year-old Hall of Fame trainer who has had at least eight horses die in his care in 2019. Hollendorfer was banned from Santa Anita racetrack in Arcadia and also from Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, but a judge granted an injunction in July that allowed him to continue doing business at the San Diego-area track.

Horse racing has been under the microscope since 37 horses died at Santa Anita racetrack in Arcadia during the most recently concluded racing season.

The California Horse Racing Board is conducting an investigation into the rash of racehorse deaths at Santa Anita, and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office is also conducting a criminal investigation into the deaths.

Many animal rights groups have called for a statewide ban on the sport.

Track workers and industry supporters, meanwhile, have said shutting down the industry in California would lead to thousands of job losses.

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