Four racehorses have died at Southland tracks in the last week, with two racing deaths at Los Alamitos, and one training death and one death listed as “other” at Santa Anita.
Luca’s Ride, a 4-year-old gelding with two career races, was vanned off after Sunday’s second race at Los Alamitos and later died. He was owned by Ruben Garcia and trained by Jesus Nunez.
Favorite Doc, a 3-year-old gelding with nine career starts and four first-place finishes, was vanned off after Saturday’s eight race. He was owned by Junior’s Quarter Horses Inc. and trained by Monty Arrossa.
Both deaths were listed as “non-musculoskeletal sudden death” by the California Horse Racing Board.
They are the third and fourth horses to die from a racing injury during the Cypress track’s current season, which began in December. However, five horses have died from training injuries at Los Alamitos this season, and three more deaths have been listed as “other.”
The track was briefly placed on probation by the CHRB on July 10, 2020 due to a spate of racehorse deaths. At that time at least 20 horses had died at the track in 2020 after suffering racing or training injuries, and another 10 had succumbed to gastrointestinal and other types of illnesses.
At Santa Anita, Kakistocracy died while training on Thursday. He was a 5-year-old gelding with six career starts and one first-place finish. He was owned by Keith Brackpool and trained by Carla Gaines.
Electric Ride, a 2-year-old filly whose two career starts include one win and one second-place finish, died Saturday at the Arcadia track. Her cause of death is listed as non-musculoskeletal sudden death, with the CHRB also noting anaphylactic shock.
Neither Los Alamitos nor Santa Anita replied to a request for comment on the deaths.
Mike Marten, spokesman for the CHRB, said sudden deaths require postmortem examinations to determine the exact cause.
Kakistocracy and Electric Ride were the second and third horses to die since Santa Anita’s fall season began Oct. 1. Fight On Ron, a 2-year-old gelding, was euthanized after suffering a racing injury on the track’s first day of fall racing. The 2-year-old unraced filly Seven Summers was injured during training on Sept. 30 and euthanized.
Eleven horses died from a racing or training injury during the Arcadia track’s winter/spring meeting, which concluded on June 20.
Santa Anita reported 20 horse deaths in 2020.
Those numbers represent an improvement over previous years. The park endured a storm of controversy in 2018-19, as 37 horses died in racing or training incidents during one racing season, prompting some animal rights activists to renew their calls for a ban on the sport.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office investigated the deaths, and concluded there was no criminal wrongdoing, but made a series of recommendations aimed at improving safety at California race tracks.
A months-long investigation by state regulators in 2019 found no evidence of illegal medications or procedures, but determined most of the horses had “pre-existing pathology,” according to a report by the CHRB.
Officials with the CHRB and Santa Anita owner The Stronach Group enacted a series of new rules after those deaths, and Santa Anita officials say they have one of the best safety records in the industry.