3 horses die in 4 day span at Golden Gate Fields

BERKELEY, CA - SEPTEMBER 2: A general view of the start of the 3rd Race during Summer Races at Golden Gate Fields on Sunday September 2, 2018 in Berkeley, California. (Photo by Cody Glenn/Getty Images)

Three horses have died since Saturday at Golden Gate Fields in Berkeley, according to the California Horse Racing Board. 

Sweet Boy, My Three Kids and Okoye died in training. The trainers of the horses were Timothy Bellasis, Andreas Psarras and Isidro Tamayo, state horse racing officials reported. 

Five horses have died this year at the track, according to the state horse racing board. 

"It is tragic for anyone to lose a horse, and I would hope that their owners do genuinely care about them," said Berkeley veterinarian Dr. Crystal Heath. 

"But anytime we create a system where a living being's value comes from their ability to produce a profit, and their worth is measured by their economic value, it leads to decisions being made based on economics instead of their best interest," Heath said.

"This has corrupted our relationship with the horse," Heath added. "I want to know what happens to each of these horses after their three- to four-year careers" as racehorses. 

Heath said horses can live an average of 25 to 30 years, but many are permanently injured from racing, or slaughtered across the border in Mexico. 

Heath co-founded Our Honor, an organization of veterinarians who advocate for creating more compassionate systems for all species including humans via collaboration with industry, government, and educational institutions. 

At least one Berkeley resident and one group want to see the end of Golden Gate Fields. 

Berkeley resident Paul Picklesimer said that horse racing doesn't seem to be in alignment with Berkeley values, such as compassion.

Direct Action Everywhere, which enters farms, slaughterhouses and other agricultural facilities to document abuse and rescue sick and injured animals, also wants to see Golden Gate Fields shut down. 

Another group Horseracing Wrongs wants to see the end of horse racing altogether. 

Twenty-seven horses died at Golden Gate Fields last year. 

Attention to horse deaths grew recently after 23 horses died at Santa Anita Park in Southern California over three months in early 2019. 

A spokeswoman for Golden Gate Fields did not respond Wednesday to an email asking if track officials wanted to comment on the deaths this year.