Santa Anita suffers 13th horse death this season

Starting gates at the Santa Anita Park racetrack
Santa Anita had its 13th horse fatality this season Sunday morning.
(David McNew / Getty Images)

Santa Anita had its 13th horse fatality this season when Tailback, a 4-year-old gelding, broke down after completing a four-furlong workout Sunday. He was euthanized after fracturing his right front leg.

He was one of 216 horses to have a timed workout on the main dirt track Sunday. His time of 49.20 was the 28th fastest of 69 runners at that distance. The horse had raced twice at the maiden claiming level, earning $4,340. He was not raced until a 4-year-old, making his first start Feb. 15 and finishing third. He finished eighth in his second start March 20.

Mike Puype trained Tailback. Last year he had two training fatalities, according to the California Horse Racing Board.

Last year, the track had 23 fatalities by this date. Tailback becomes the 10th horse to die since Dec. 26 because of a catastrophic breakdown. Two died for what was believed to be heart issues and one died as the result of an accident.


Horse owners, including Bob Baffert, and labor organizers are calling on the county Board of Supervisors to allow horse racing amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Santa Anita has been shut down for racing, but not training, since March 22. On Tuesday, the track plans to draw entries for racing Friday, although it is still seeking permission from the Los Angeles County Public Health Department. Last week, the Alameda County Public Health Department gave the OK to Golden Gate Fields to resume racing on Thursday. Los Alamitos Race Course, in Orange County, has not been shut down for racing as a result of COVID-19.

Horses have to train several times a week when at the track regardless of whether they are racing. Santa Anita has set up a large quarantine area for jockeys and back stretch workers and will institute vigorous cleaning and safety protocols if it is allowed to resume racing. Fans, owners and media would be excluded from the track. It takes more than 1,000 people to hold morning training, but racing requires fewer than 100.