Amidst Breeders’ Cup, 37th Horse Dies At Santa Anita Race Track


Enzo Goebel, Staff Writer

On Saturday, Nov. 2, thousands of spectators at the Santa Anita Race Track watched on as yet another horse got injured in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. Mongolian Groom, a 4-year-old gelding, was euthanized after sustaining a fatal fracture to his left hind leg while competing in the 11/4 mile contest with his jockey Abel Cedillo. 

Mongolian Groom marks the 37th horse that died at the Santa Anita Race Track since Dec. 26th of last year. While race tracks in the U.S. tend to have high numbers of equine deaths, Santa Anita Race Track has exceeded the industry average, and many of the deaths remain unexplained. This has led to public outrage pressuring the track’s owner, the Stronach Group, to enforce new rules and implement stricter safety precautions. Non-profit American animal rights organization, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), condemned the string of deaths in a statement saying, “The racing industry must make a choice by doing the right thing by the horses or shutting down forever.’’

In September, California Governor Gavin Newsom told the New York Times that horse racing is a “sport whose time is up unless they reform.’’ 

In a letter to the executive director of the state’s horse racing regulatory board earlier this week, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California called the Breeders’ Cup a “critical test for the future of horse racing in California.” After Mongolian Groom was euthanized, Senator Feinstein renewed her call for racing to be suspended at Santa Anita Park, according to USA Today.

In response to such pressure, the Stronach Group reassured the public that they would be replacing the main dirt track with a synthetic one that is thought to be safer, and the California Thoroughbred Trainers Organization volunteered to raise money for an equine MRI at Santa Anita. The Breeders’ Cup, the Jockey Club, and the Stronach Group have all voiced their support of the Horseracing Integrity Act to set a national standard for medication in the horseracing industry as well. Still, many are skeptical or wish for bigger steps to be taken to prevent more deaths. Santa Anita Race Track has since closed after their fall meet on Sunday, Nov. 3, and will open again on Dec. 26 for their winter meet.

It is unclear if these measures will be sufficient in preventing further equine deaths at Santa Anita Race Track or if horse racing is facing extinction. Either way, this is a longstanding issue that must be resolved.

Photo courtesy of NBCSPORTS.COM