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Third horse dies in training at Del Mar

Workers groom the tracks at Del Mar Racetrack
Workers groom the tracks as fans arrive at the Del Mar Racetrack on the day that two horses died in a training accident on July 18 in Del Mar. Another horse died over the weekend.
(Sam Hodgson / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

A third thoroughbred race horse has died during training at Del Mar, which opened its summer meet less than two weeks ago.

Bowl Of Soul, a 3-year-old filly trained by Bob Baffert, broke down Monday with an injury to her right hind fetlock, which is similar to an ankle. The horse was euthanized, according to Dr. Rick Arthur, equine medical director for the California Horse Racing Board.

Del Mar, which was the safest among the nation’s major tracks last year, had a freak accident on the morning of the second day of racing, July 18, when Charge A Bunch, trained by Carla Gaines, threw his rider and ran head first into Carson Valley, trained by Baffert. Both horses died instantly from broken necks.

There have been no fatalities in 82 races this meeting.

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Unlike the first two deaths, this fatality was acknowledged only after an inquiry from the Los Angeles Times. It was confirmed by both the CHRB and Del Mar.

“She was working well and she was coming into the turn and went to switch leads when she suffered a rare twist of a hind ankle,” Baffert said. “You just can’t predict these things happening. You work so hard to keep them healthy. It’s so tough on everybody.”

Vigilance pays off for trainer John Sadler and Catalina Cruiser’s owners as the 5-year-old races to victory in the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on Saturday.

Jockey Joe Talamo, her regular rider, was aboard when she suffered the injury.

“That was so sad,” Talamo said. “She was working along fine and felt great the whole way around the track. Out of nowhere I felt her leg and I pulled her up as quick as I could and just held her in place so she wouldn’t move.”

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Baffert said initially he hoped Bowl Of Soul could be saved, but the veterinarians said nothing could be done.

“We would have done whatever it took to save her,” Baffert said.

A lot was expected from Bowl Of Soul, a $400,000 purchase by Spendthrift Farm at a 2-year-old-in-training sale at Ocala, Fla., in April of last year. She won her first race at Santa Anita on May 27, then finished second in an allowance June 23, the final day of the Santa Anita meeting.

“I never like to say anything because I never had any issues at Santa Anita,” Baffert said. “I get down here and I had that head-on collision. … It’s been really tough. I just doesn’t get any easier. She was a really sweet filly. It’s been pretty tough around the house.”

Baffert said he was planning on running Bowl Of Soul this weekend.


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