30th Horse Dies at Santa Anita Park Since Racing Season Started in December

A 30th horse has died at Santa Anita Park since the racing season began on December 26, officials said.

American Currency, a 4-year-old gelding, was injured while exercising on the training track Saturday morning and was euthanized, California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) spokesman Mike Marten told news outlets. The horse's owner was banned from Santa Anita Park later in the day.

The death comes weeks after Santa Anita officials rebuffed a request from the state regulatory board to temporarily suspend racing.

"This horse was not entered to run in any race, so therefore was not reviewed by the panel that was formed to review horses entered to race," Marten said, according to KTLA and ABC7.

The horse's death occurred on the final weekend of scheduled racing for the current season at Santa Anita. (The venue's racing season is scheduled to end on June 23.) The Breeders' Cup is set to be held at the race track November 1.

American Currency was owned and trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, who was named in a CNN story that reported the CHRB, a regulatory agency, is investigating the role of trainers in some of the deaths and is calling upon experts to examine the remains of the dead horses to shed more light on the causes of death.

Hollendorfer, 73, was banned from Santa Anita Park hours after American Currency's death.

The Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita, issued a statement saying: "We regret that Mr. Hollendorfer's record in recent months at both Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields has become increasingly challenging and does not match the level of safety and accountability we demand. Effective immediately, Mr. Hollendorfer is no longer welcome to stable, race or train his horses at any of our facilities."

Hollendorfer maintains stables at Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields and just sent horses to run in New York.

Joe Harper, chief executive and president of Del Mar, said it was too early to determine whether Hollendorfer would be authorized to race at his track, which opens on July 17, according to The Los Angeles Times.

On June 12, the CHRB announced in a press release that it would be working with the owner of Santa Anita Park to implement enhanced safety measures, for the final six racing days at Santa Anita.

They would be implementing a system to better gauge the horses' risk of injury before racing.

The CHRB does not have the power to suspend a race meet or remove race dates without the approval of the track, or without dealing with several procedural hurdles, the Times reported earlier this month.

On June 9, the CHRB recommended the facility to suspend racing for its final two weekends, in light of the 28 deaths that have occurred this season. Track officials declined, and it was only hours later that Truffalino, a 3-year-old filly, collapsed and died of an apparent heart attack during a race in extremely hot temperatures, news outlets reported.

In the future, however, the CHRB could have more power to wield in this situation. There is a bill—SB 469—in the state legislature that would authorize CHRB to stop or move meets with virtually no public notice or waiting periods. It has been endorsed by Governor Gavin Newsom.

Santa Anita, Arcadia, California
Animal-rights advocates protest the deaths of 20 racehorses in the first two months of this year at the Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia, California on March 3, 2019. MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images