Santa Anita had its fifth horse fatality of the short fall meeting when G Q Covergirl injured both her front legs on Friday and was euthanized on the advice of the attending veterinarian. G Q Cover Girl was a 6-year-old mare who had won her last two races.
The horse was on the training track when the incident occurred. The surface, which is closest to the scoreboard, has historically caused the fewest number of breakdowns. However, all three training deaths this meeting have occurred on the inner surface, which is not used for racing. One of the training deaths was believed to be a heart attack and not a catastrophic limb injury. The two other fatalities were during racing.
The first death of the meeting occurred about two weeks before racing restarted at Santa Anita on Sept. 27. Last year there were four fatalities during the meeting, three in training and one racing. The meet closes on Nov. 3.
G Q Covergirl, who is trained by two-time Kentucky Derby winner Doug O’Neill, won a $40,000 claiming race at Santa Anita on Oct. 4 and won an allowance/optional claiming race on Sept. 14 at Los Alamitos. She had won six of her 16 lifetime races and about $200,000. She was originally bought in April 2015 at the spring 2-year-olds in training sale in Ocala, Fla., for $75,000.
The horse spent most of her career in the barn of Phil D’Amato until she was claimed out of a race at Santa Anita for $40,000 on June 8 of this year. The current ownership group was Great Friends Stable, Shelia Bambauer, Jim King, Steve Rothblum and O’Neill.
The death is sure to raise tensions at the track, which hosts the world championships of racing, the Breeders’ Cup, next Friday and Saturday. There was some question if Santa Anita would be allowed to continue to be the host of the event after 30 horses died during its winter/spring meet. Of those 30 horses, only one died after suffering an injury on the training track. On June 27, the board of the Breeders’ Cup voted to keep the event at Santa Anita.
As is protocol, the horse will be sent to UC Davis for a necropsy.
Both the California Horse Racing Board and the L.A. District Attorney’s Office are conducting investigations into the deaths. The CHRB has said it will release the results of its investigation in a report in December. At that point, all the necropsy results will be made public.