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Santa Anita is buying a machine that can detect horse injuries earlier

Santa Anita is buying a machine that can detect horse injuries earlier
The Santa Anita race track in Arcadia. Santa Anita announced on Wednesday that it is purchasing a machine that can provide rarely-before seen imaging of a horse’s ankle (fetlock) in the hopes of detecting injuries earlier. (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

As part of its horse racing safety reform package, Santa Anita announced Wednesday that it is purchasing a machine that can provide rarely seen imaging of a horse’s ankle (fetlock) in the hopes of detecting injuries earlier.

The track will be putting a Longmile Positron Emission Tomography Scan machine, called a MILE-PET, in its equine hospital on the backstretch of Santa Anita. While PET technology has been used on humans for a while, it is very rare to use it on horses. The machine will allow for the fetlock joint to be scanned while the horse is standing. It reduces the use of anesthesia when taking scans.

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The Stronach Group, parent company of Santa Anita, is joining with the Dolly Green Research Foundation and UC Davis to pay for the machine. TSG’s contribution is $500,000. The cost of the machine was not disclosed.

“You cannot overstate how significant an advancement this is in equine diagnostic imaging and it’s a natural fit here in California,” said Dr. Rick Arthur, the chief veterinarian for the California Horse Racing Board. “PET is an advanced nuclear imaging technique and Santa Anita is already the home of the Dolly Green Nuclear Scintigraphy facility, which was the first of its kind when it was installed.”

No date was given when the machine will be in full use.

The safety reform package was announced by Belinda Stronach, president and CEO of TSG, after a spike in horse fatalities since the track opened its season Dec. 26.

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