Ninth horse dies at Santa Anita

Silhouetted horses on track in the morning at Santa Anita Park.
(Getty Images)

Santa Anita had its ninth death of the racing and training season when Chosen Vessel became the fourth fatality on the track’s turf course Saturday due to a fractured left front ankle. The season started on Dec. 26.

The 5-year-old gelding was pulled up by jockey Edwin Maldonado as he approached the far turn in the ninth and final race of the card, a 1 1/8 mile turf race for allowance horses for a purse of $59,000.

This is the first fatality for trainer Craig Dollase since the horse death situation became critical early last year.

Last year at this time, Santa Anita had 19 fatalities. The death was confirmed to the Los Angeles Times by Aidan Butler, acting executive director of California racing for the Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita.


The dramatic decrease in fatalities come in the wake of safety reforms by the Stronach Group. However, the track has also had a reduction in race days and the horse population has decreased, which has also mitigated the number.

Maximum Security, who was disqualified from Kentucky Derby, wins the $20-million Saudi Cup. Filly Midnight Bisou finishes a strong second.

Chosen Vessel had been running at the stakes level his last three races. He was three-of-16 lifetime. His last start was in the San Marcos Stakes at Santa Anita. His last win was a Nov. 3 at Santa Anita last year. The horse had not ever been listed on the veterinarian’s list, according to the California Horse Racing Board website.

The track’s turf course, historically a safer course, had its fourth racing death while the dirt course has had none during racing. There have been two on the dirt surface during training and three on the training track. Seven of the nine deaths are geldings.