Track at Santa Anita Park
The track at Santa Anita Park. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Authorities euthanized a colt on Santa Anita Park’s dirt track Saturday on the second day of its autumn meet.

A team of on-track veterinarians, led by Santa Anita’s Dr. Dana Stead, evaluated Emtech immediately after the 3-year-old colt broke down, according to the track’s owner.

Stead observed that Emtech had two broken front forelimbs and made the decision to humanely euthanize the colt. With that, the animal became the 32nd horse to die at Santa Anita in nine months.

Jockey Mario Gutierrez escaped injury in the mishap in the eighth race.

“As is protocol at Santa Anita, we will open an immediate review into what factors could have contributed to Emtech’s injury,” said Dr. Dionne Benson, chief veterinarian for The Stronach Group, Santa Anita’s owner.

Emtech will undergo a necropsy at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, a mandatory step after on-track accidents, Benson said.

The colt had two victories, a second-place finish and a third-place finish in five races. He won his most recent event, a 5 1/2-furlong race at Los Alamitos Race Course on Sept. 14.

Santa Anita Park is under unprecedented scrutiny over safety concerns after 30 fatalities in the track’s winter-spring meeting. Another death occurred two weeks ago.

Officials euthanized a 4-year-old gelding, Zeke, Sept. 16 after diagnosing the horse with a pelvic fracture. He pulled  up while working on Santa Anita’s training track, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The deaths, along with others this summer at Del Mar. and an incident at another prominent track, Los Alamitos, have drawn critics’ ire. Some seek an end to horse racing.

In addition, Del Mar endured a legal battle to bar a trainer associated with some of the Santa Anita fatalities from working at the track.

A PETA official, Kathy Guillermo, on Saturday called on Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey to take action.

Lacey should “release the findings on the culpability of trainers and veterinarians who may have used drugs, knee joint injections, and other dangerous methods to keep injured horses racing.”

The D.A.’s office created a task force in April to “thoroughly investigate and evaluate the evidence” related to the deaths at Santa Anita.

 – City News Service