Santa Anita had its 11th death since the racing year began Dec. 26 on Wednesday when M C Hamster broke down after finishing a three-furlong workout on the main dirt track. The 4-year-old filly suffered a fractured left front ankle and was euthanized.
The Arcadia track has been closed for racing since March 27 by order of the L.A. County Public Health Department as a nonessential business. However, it has been allowed to stay open for training, weather permitting. Wednesday was only the second day training had been allowed since April 6 because of rain and one planned closure.
M C Hamster last raced Feb. 24 when she finished fifth in a six-horse allowance race at Turf Paradise in Arizona. Since that race, she worked twice at Turf Paradise and was moved to Santa Anita, where she worked four furlongs March 30 and had the second fastest time of 63 horses at that distance. On Wednesday, her time of 35.20 seconds was the fastest of 35 horses going three furlongs.
The filly, purchased for $80,000 in April 2018, had won three of eight races, earning $36,730. Six of her races were at Turf Paradise with one race at Laurel Park in Maryland and Ellis Park in Kentucky. She had been moved to the barn of Ryan Hanson since coming to Santa Anita.
Last year, Santa Anita had a spike in horse deaths and the track closed for more than three weeks. At this date last year, there had been 23 horse deaths, but with more racing and training and a larger horse population. After the increase in deaths the track instituted a series of safety and medication changes.
M C Hamster was the fourth horse to die on the main dirt track since Dec. 26. Four have died on the turf course and three on the training track. Two of the deaths were believed to be cardiac events.
Santa Anita hopes to meet with Health Department officials to persuade the county to allow the track to reopen for racing without spectators. The county-owned L.A. Arboretum, adjacent to the track, has been allowed to stay open as an essential business but with restricted attendance.