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Two horses die in same race at Los Alamitos

Thoroughbred horses bolt out of the starting gate at Los Alamitos Race Track.
Thoroughbreds bolt out of the starting gate in a 2014 race at Los Alamitos Race Track. Two horses died in the first race on Saturday’s card at the track.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Los Alamitos had its first two deaths during daytime thoroughbred racing this year when two horses died in the first race on Saturday. The deaths were not related.

Mighty Elijah injured his left front leg in the stretch, according to the stewards. He was vanned off and euthanized when his injury could not be repaired. The horse was trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, who is banned from running his horses Santa Anita Park and Golden Gates Fields after a string of fatalities. Los Alamitos has allowed him to race horses and Del Mar let him race after Hollendorfer obtained a court order.

Mighty Elijah, a 4-year-old gelding, was winless in nine starts and running in a $15,000 maiden claiming race when he broke down.

The other horse to die was Into a Hot Spot, who collapsed while being unsaddled after the race. He died on the track. The stewards said he had internal injuries.

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Mighty Elijah was the eighth horse to die in Hollendorfer’s care in the last 13 months. There have been four at Santa Anita, two at Golden Gate, one at Del Mar and now one at Los Alamitos. Hollendorfer announced earlier this month that he was taking his stable to Oaklawn Park in Arkansas to run after the beginning of the year.

Around 9 p.m. on Sunday night, Ed Burgart will hoist his binoculars, step behind the microphone and spend around 20 seconds calling his last race as the full-time quarter-horse announcer at Los Alamitos Race Course.

Drew Cuoto, Hollendorfer’s attorney, told the Daily Racing Form on Friday that he plans to seek a preliminary injunction in Los Angeles County Superior Court to allow his client to race at Santa Anita. The California Horse Racing Board has not taken an official role, instead allowing Santa Anita and Golden Gate’s “house rules” to dictate whether Hollendorfer‘s horses can run.

The 73-year-old Hall of Fame trainer has won a court decision in San Diego court, but lost in Los Angeles and Alameda county courts.

Into a Hot Spot, a Reed Saldana-trained 4-year-old gelding, was winless in 12 starts. He was a $200,000 purchase as a yearling at the Sept. 2016 Keeneland Sale. Into a Hot Spot did not appear to suffer any trauma during the running of the race.

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Horse safety has been the biggest issue in California racing in 2019 after 37 horses died either racing or training at Santa Anita this year. Nine horses have died as the result of racing or training at Del Mar and now two at Los Alamitos this year.

Sunday is the final day of Los Alamitos’ seven-day winter meeting. The Orange County track will have run eight weeks of daytime thoroughbred racing this year.


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