Mean Sophia, a 3-year-old filly, has died after suffering an injury while racing at Del Mar Racetrack – the first equine fatality during a summer meet at the track since 2018.

The horse stumbled coming out of the gate in Saturday’s seventh race, broke her leg and was euthanized after track veterinarians determined that she could not be saved, track spokesman Mac McBride said.

Mean Sophia was owned by Sinnott Family Trust and trained by Peter Miller, according to the industry website Equibase. Her jockey was Ricardo Gonzalez. She had eight career starts and one first-place finish.

While there have been no racing deaths at Del Mar this year or last, four training deaths were recorded last summer. Four other horses have died at the track this summer – two in training accidents and two listed for “other” causes.

Officials with Del Mar and the California Horse Racing Board did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Meanwhile, also on Saturday, at the Los Alamitos Race Course, Billy the Hott, a 5-year-old gelding, died after suffering an injury while racing, track officials confirmed to City News Service.

Billy the Hott is the 24th horse to die in a racing or training injury at the Cypress track this year. He pulled up in the eight race Saturday and died a short time later, Los Alamitos marketing director Orlando Gutierrez said.

The horse was owned by Bo Hirsch LLC and trained by Martin F. Jones. His jockey was Tiago Josue Pereira, according to Equibase.

Verifiable, a 2-year-old filly, also pulled up in Saturday’s seventh race at Los Alamitos, but she was back in her barn Sunday and doing well, Gutierrez told CNS.

Some animal rights activists have urged Del Mar officials to suspend racing this weekend due to the extreme heat wave plaguing Southern California, but McBride told City News Service that heat was “not an issue” at Del Mar.

The California Horse Racing Board recommends using a “heat stress index” for determining whether it’s safe to hold races in extreme heat. The HSI is determined by adding the temperature and the humidity and subtracting wind, though regulators advise only using heat and humidity because wind velocity is too variable from race to race.

“It was relatively cool here yesterday with a good breeze coming in off the ocean,” he said.

Sunday’s high was expected to reach 95 degrees in Del Mar.

McBride has noted that in both 2018 and 2019, the Jockey Club’s Equine Injury Database recognized Del Mar as the safest major track in the United States.

– City News Service

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.