Another horse euthanized at Santa Anita Park; 34th since December

Satchel Paige, a 3-year-old gelding, died on Saturday after suffering an injury to his left leg during the fifth race at Santa Anita, the 34th death of a horse at the track since Dec. 26.

Mike Marten, spokesman for the California Horse Racing Board, confirmed to City News Service that the horse was euthanized.

The track -- and the sport in general -- has been under heavy scrutiny since the rash of deaths at Santa Anita started garnering more media attention this year than in seasons past.

Racing at Santa Anita Park was halted for most of March while examinations were conducted on the track.

Races resumed April 4 after the state horse racing board approved a series of safety measures and The Stronach Group announced a series of steps aimed at bolstering the safety of horses at the track, including restrictions on certain medications, requiring trainers to get advance permission before putting a horse through a workout and investing in diagnostic equipment to aid in the early detection of pre-existing conditions.

The Stronach Group and the California Horse Racing Board also created a "safety review team" that evaluates all horses at the track. The panel of veterinarians and stewards has the authority to scratch a horse from a race if even one panelist questions the animal's fitness.

The Stronach Group also announced a seven-member veterinary inspection team for the autumn meet. The team will "oversee every aspect of Santa Anita's training and racing operation," a company official said.

Before this weekend, the most recent death was Oct. 5, when a 5-year- old gelding named Ky. Colonel collapsed and died from an apparent heart attack.

That horse had last raced May 4, finishing second in a mile turf race at Golden Gate Fields in Berkeley, which like Santa Anita Park is owned by The Stronach Group. The layoff was longer than customary.

Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey created a task force in April of what she described as "experienced deputy district attorneys and sworn peace officers with varied expertise within my office" to "thoroughly investigate and evaluate the evidence to determine whether unlawful conduct or conditions affected the welfare and safety of horses at Santa Anita Park."

Santa Anita Park is currently in the midst of its 23-day autumn racing meet, which will be highlighted by the Breeders' Cup World Championships Nov. 1-2. It's the record 10th time the Breeders' Cup -- one of the sport's major annual events -- will be held at Santa Anita Park.