Horse dies at Los Alamitos for first time since track was taken off probation

The starting gate at the Los Alamitos Race Course.
Los Alamitos Race Course had its first fatality Saturday since being taken off probation by the California Horse Racing Board.
(Howard Lipin / U-T San Diego)

Los Alamitos Race Course had its first equine fatality since the California Horse Racing Board took the race track off probation July 20. Secret Tonight, a 3-year-old quarter-horse gelding, stumbled after the end of his race Saturday and suffered an unspecified life-ending injury.

Secret Tonight had just finished fourth in a 300-yard race when he stumbled in the gallop near the four-furlong pole and unseated his rider, David Morones. The injury was not seen in video coverage of the race or mentioned in the race-caller chart because the race was well over. The death became public when the California Horse Racing Board updated its fatality database Monday. There have been 23 racing or training deaths since the track started its season Dec. 27.

It was the horse’s third lifetime start and was running at a maiden claiming level. The race carried a purse of $7,000, and Secret Tonight earned $495 for his fourth-place finish, upping his lifetime total to $1,095. In his previous two starts he finished sixth and seventh. He was running for a claiming price of $2,500.

The horse was bred, owned and trained by Jaime Gomez, the second-leading quarter-horse trainer at the track. Gomez, who has been training since 1992, has won more than $30 million in purses.


The track was placed on 10 days’ probation July 10 when eight horses died either racing or training between May 26 and July 5. Two more horses died during the first few days of probation. The CHRB took the track off probation when Los Alamitos announced enhanced safety protocols that included increased veterinary oversight and a pre-race review panel that would determine a horse’s eligibility to run. Saturday’s death was the first since July 13.

Los Alamitos usually runs seven or eight quarter horse, thoroughbred or mixed races every Friday through Sunday night, 51 weeks a year.