Two horses die in separate incidents ahead of Breeders’ Cup

An exercise rider rides a horse during morning workouts at Del Mar on Thursday.
An exercise rider rides a horse during morning workouts at Del Mar on Thursday. The 2021 Breeders’ Cup gets underway at Del Mar on Friday.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Trainer Peter Miller had his fifth equine fatality this year when Storm Spun was euthanized after a training injury Wednesday at San Luis Rey Downs. It was the second death on Wednesday, as a loose horse at Del Mar was fatally injured after running into a pole on a fence.

The cause of the death was still pending on the unraced 3-year-old colt. The horse was on a slow gallop when the rider heard a “pop” and the horse stopped running. The horse was coming off a long layoff, having last worked out on Aug. 30, 2020.

Racing and training deaths continue to decline in California likely because of reform measures that have been put in place by the California Horse Racing Board. In 2020 to this date, there were 62 fatalities, 36 racing and 26 training. This year, the activity causing the deaths has changed. There have been 48 fatalities, 17 racing and 31 training.

George Leonard III is the first American-born Black trainer to enter a horse, California Angel, in the 37-year history of the Breeders’ Cup.

Nov. 4, 2021


Last year, significant time was lost as tracks were closed because of the coronavirus. This year, race dates were lost when Los Alamitos switched from three racing days to two.

There seemingly has been a rise in non-musculoskeletal deaths this year, also known as sudden death. There have been 17 racing or training fatalities to go along with three accidents, such as the one Wednesday at Del Mar. The number seems more pronounced because of the steep decline in musculoskeletal deaths, otherwise known as breakdowns.

Dr. Jeff Blea, the new equine medical director for the CHRB, said the CHRB is studying the matter with the hopes of coming up with solutions to mitigate the number of sudden deaths.