On the Third Day Back, Another Fatality at Santa Anita
By Bill Finley & Dan Ross
http://www.thoroughbreddailynews.com/tw ... an-simeon/The welcome feeling of normalcy that had embraced Santa Anita on Friday and Saturday was shattered Sunday when Arms Runner (Overdriven) broke down during the running of the GIII San Simeon S. and had to be euthanized. The 5-year-old gelding was the 23rd horse put down at Santa Anita since the current meet began Dec. 26.
Santa Anita stewards confirmed to the TDN that Arms Runner, who was trained by Peter Miller, had been euthanized, and that he had sustained an injury to his right foreleg.
Santa Anita officials, who gave no indication that they were considering closing the track again, issued a statement on the incident Sunday evening.
“Arms Runner sustained a fatal injury during the San Simeon S. today,” the statement read. “He was racing over the 6 1/2-furlong hillside turf course this afternoon when at the dirt crossing, he fell and collided with another horse, La Sardane. La Sardane, was walked back to her barn under her own power with no reported injuries. Both jockeys, Martin Pedroza, who rode Arms Runner and Ruben Fuentes, who rode La Sardane, were examined by on-site medical experts and released from First Aid.
“While this incident happened during competition on a track that has been deemed by independent experts to be safe, we are working closely with the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) to understand if there was anything additional that we could have done to prevent today’s tragedy. Today’s incident speaks to the larger issue of catastrophic injuries in horse racing that The Stronach Group, together with our industry stakeholders, are working to solve throughout California and across the country.”
Simultaneously trying to deal with a firestorm from the local media, pressure from politicians and trying to find causes of, and solutions for, the rash of breakdowns, Santa Anita closed down after the 22nd death. During the 26-day hiatus, the track’s owners, The Stronach Group (TSG) announced a series of reforms it planned to implement, including a phase-out of Lasix and the banning of the whip. Once the California Horse Racing Board gave its permission for Santa Anita to resume racing, the track opened its gates Friday. Much to the relief of everyone involved with California racing, the first two cards were completed without incident.
But it took just four races Sunday for something to go horribly wrong. The San Simeon is a 6 1/2-furlong “down-the-hill” turf race. As the field crossed over the dirt track before returning to the turf, Arms Runner broke down. La Sardane (Fr) (Kingsale) fell over the stricken horse. Arms Runner was vanned off the track and later put down back at his barn.
Barry Irwin, the head of the Team Valor syndicate that owns La Sardane, said his mare was not seriously injured, but did have a bruised shoulder that could compromise her career.
“I don’t know whether she’s going to run again or not,” Irwin said. “I’m just thrilled that she’s still alive. That was horrible to watch.”
When the replay of the race was shown on Santa Anita’s simulcast feed, the spill was edited out of the race footage.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a constant thorn in the industry’s side since the breakdowns began, wasted little time issuing a statement. It read:
“Over the past two weeks, Thoroughbred owners and trainers and the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) have argued about medications, whipping, and the public perception of horse racing. But they did not take every measure needed to protect the horses. Both horses (Arms Runner and La Sardane) ran on the drug Lasix, which is known to cause dehydration and electrolyte loss. All drugs need to be banned entirely, and the known-safest racing surface–a synthetic track–must be used. Furthermore, PETA calls on Governor Newsom to urgently form an independent panel to investigate the training and veterinary practices in California racing, including the use of bisphosphonates and other medications that reportedly have been used indiscriminately. If the CHRB does not take every possible action to protect the horses, then racing should not be allowed to continue.”