Two horses have died at Santa Anita since start of new racing season

Thirty-seven horses died at Santa Anita during the 2019 racing season.
(Associated Press)

Santa Anita, trying to reset the clock after a disastrous year of horse fatalities, had its first racing death of the new meet when a horse broke down in the last race on Wednesday. Golden Birthday took a bad step early in the stretch and jockey Victor Espinoza came off the horse while he was trying to pull up the 4-year-old gelding.

Golden Birthday was euthanized upon the recommendation of veterinarians. He fractured the lower part of a hind leg, possibly because of contact with another horse while racing. He was running in a 1 1/8-mile turf race for allowance horses for a purse of $57,000.

Espinoza was unhurt.

It’s the second fatality of this winter-spring meet. Truest Reward sustained a broken left front leg on Dec. 26 while doing low impact work on the training track. The track had more than 5,000 timed workouts since Nov. 3 when the last meeting ended without a death.


Gary Sherlock, who trained both quarter horses and thoroughbreds, died at 73 in Arcadia.

Dec. 31, 2019

Santa Anita instituted major reforms last year in an attempt to stem the number of fatalities. Thirty horses died in the winter-spring meeting and seven in the fall meeting.

Golden Birthday, running his 10th race, had won twice previously. His last race was Nov. 9 when he finished fifth in the Let It Ride Stakes. He was trained by Jim Cassidy. The horse was bought for $5,500 as a yearling at the Barretts sale in California. He had earned $117,394.

As is standard, a necropsy will be performed. The California Horse Racing Board is expected to release the results of its investigation into the deaths at Santa Anita sometime this month. The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office found no criminal wrongdoing in its investigation into the fatalities.