Track at Santa Anita Park
The track at Santa Anita. Officials there face scrutiny because of a series of equine fatalities. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Officials euthanized another race horse Saturday after he broke his left front ankle not quite halfway through the fifth race at Santa Anita Park.

With the loss of Satchel Paige, 34 horses have died at the track in the last 10 months. The last fatality occurred earlier this month.

In a statement from the Stronach Group, officials said Santa Anita veterinarian Dr. Dana Stead “observed that the horse had suffered an open fracture of his left front ankle.” That prompted the decision to euthanize him.

The Stronach Group operates Santa Anita Park, among other horse-racing venues nationwide.

Jockey Ruben Fuentes escaped uninjured. Satchel Paige, a 3-year-old gelding, raced for breeder/owner Nick Alexander. In addition, Phil D’Amato and his staff trained him, according to the statement.

The horse will undergo a necropsy at the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine on behalf of the California Horse Racing Board. The state requires the procedure for all on-track deaths.

The necropsy report will be used to determine what, if anything, could have prevented the injury.

Santa Anita “will continue to brief our stakeholders and all of our constituents, including the public, as more facts come in,” Dr. Dionne Benson, Chief Veterinarian for The Stronach Group, said.

Satchel Paige had six career starts, with no victories, but finishes in second place and third place. He posted $24,000 in earnings, according to

In the aftermath of Satchel Paige’s death, animal-rights activists announced they will hold a vigil for the fallen horses at the Arcadia track. Coordinators described the event, at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, as a “peaceful demonstration against horse racing.”

Santa Anita, and the sport in general, has been under heavy scrutiny. Because of the rash of deaths, officials halted racing at Santa Anita Park for most of March while conducting examinations on the track. Racing resumed April 4 after the state horse racing board approved a series of safety measures.

In addition, The Stronach Group and the California Horse Racing Board created a safety review team that evaluates all horses at the track. The group also announced a seven-member veterinary inspection team for the autumn meet.

The team was expected to “oversee every aspect of Santa Anita’s training and racing operation,” a company official said.

The troubles at Santa Anita touched the Del Mar summer racing season. There was a failed legal battle to bar a trainer who had worked at Santa Anita from the meet. Then horses met tragic ends in Del Mar as well.

Santa Anita Park is in the midst of its 23-day autumn racing meet, highlighted by the Breeders’ Cup World Championships Nov. 1-2.

– City News Service