Santa Anita trainer Michael Pender suspended for violation of animal welfare

Santa Anita race track
Over two dozen horse deaths since Dec. 26 at Santa Anita Park have left the racing industry in a quandry.
(Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

Trainer Michael Pender was suspended for 30 days late Friday after the California Horse Racing Board determined that he violated a rule regarding animal welfare. The suspension starts on June 14 and ends July 13.

The ruling did not specifically say what the violation was, however, stewards’ minutes of the May 14 hearing gave this account:

“Pender knowingly worked the horse New Karma after a veterinarian examination disclosed an injury,” the publicly filed document said. “This horse was then shipped to Golden Gate Fields where it was entered into a race on April 6, 2019, but subsequently scratched due to its condition.”

Pender, 53, could not immediately be reached for comment. When asked to vacate his Santa Anita stalls in mid-May, Pender declined to comment to a Daily Racing Form reporter.


The hearing lasted four hours but the 20-page complaint against the trainer was not available.

Pender last raced a horse on May 12 at Santa Anita. He has 200 wins in 1,631 starts, winning almost $8.4 million over a career that started in 2004. He has had two Grade 1 winning horses, Ultimate Eagle, who won the Hollywood Derby in 2011 and Jeranimo, who won the Shoemaker Mile Stakes in 2012 and Eddie Read Stakes in 2013.

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