Santa Anita has canceled live racing and training so the track can be tested and evaluated. Tuesday’s announcement by the Stronach Group came after Lets Light the Way, a four-year-old filly who broke down while training, became the 21st equine fatality on the one-mile main track since the meet opened on December 26.
“The safety, health and welfare of the horses and jockeys is our top priority,” Chief Operating Officer Tim Ritvo said. “While we are confident further testing will confirm the soundness of the track, the decision to close is the right thing to do at this time.”
All stakes races slated for this weekend, including the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) and San Felipe (G2) for Kentucky Derby contenders will be rescheduled.
The Stronach Group has been in constant communication with the California Horse Racing Board and numerous key industry stakeholders who are in full agreement with the decision to suspend racing and training.
The additional testing of the track will be led by veteran Trackman Dennis Moore, expanding on the ground radar testing conducted earlier this week by the University of Kentucky’s Dr. Mick Peterson. Measures will include utilizing an Orono Biomechanical Surface Tester, a device that mimics the impacts of a horse running at full gallop allowing engineers to see how the track holds up. These test results will be evaluated to ensure track consistency and uniformity for both training and racing.
The Stronach Group will also conduct a comprehensive evaluation of all existing safety measures and current protocols.