Santa Anita suffers its 15th horse death of 2020

Horses run in the second race at Santa Anita Park on March 14.
Horses run in the second race at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia on March 14.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Southern California’s main thoroughbred tracks had their first racing or training fatality in more than three months when an unraced 2-year-old filly suffered life-ending injuries during morning training at Santa Anita on Wednesday.

Penelope Rose had not run a race and was galloping on the main track when she fractured her right front humerus, the bone that joins the shoulder to the elbow, while galloping. Radiographs showed that the injury was unrecoverable and she was euthanized. As is standard, a necropsy will be performed and reviewed by the California Horse Racing Board.

It was the second training death this year for trainer Eddie Truman. Miss Romania, a 3-year-old filly, died on Feb. 12, also of a fractured humerus.


At Santa Anita, it was the 15th death this calendar year and 16th if you go back to the start of the racing year on Dec. 26, 2019. Last year, the track reached 16 deaths by Feb. 22. A combination of enhanced safety protocols and less racing because of shutdowns caused by the coronavirus and, later in the year, nearby fires could be considered factors in cutting the death count by more than half.

A racetrack owner and an animal rights’ advocacy group are calling for an end to sales of North American horses to South Korean interests.

Dec. 16, 2020

Last year, the track was shut down for almost a month in the spring because of the high number of horse fatalities. Santa Anita had 37 racing and training deaths during the 2018-2019 racing year.

Penelope Rose, a California-bred, was purchased for $32,000 as a yearling in the 2019 Keeneland yearling sale. The horse did not have any recorded workouts.

Even though Santa Anita’s last racing day was Oct. 25, the track has been open for training. Some trainers, rather than move their stable to Del Mar for the short fall meeting, keep their horses at Santa Anita and just ship down on race day. The same is true for nearby Los Alamitos. Since Oct. 26, Santa Anita has recorded 4,652 timed workouts and tens of thousands of exercise gallops. Most horses exercise at least five days a week or more.

Santa Anita’s six-month winter/spring meeting starts on Dec. 26.