Racing

Santa Anita Cancels Racing Indefinitely Following Tuesday Fatality

Santa Anita Park is closed following 21st fatality since Dec. 26. ©Richard Gross

Racing has been cancelled indefinitely at Santa Anita Park following the fatal injury sustained by four-year-old filly Lets Light the Way during training on the main track Tuesday morning.

This is the 21st fatality suffered during training or racing since Santa Anita began its winter meet Dec. 26.

Announcement of the decision to cancel racing was made California Thoroughbred Trainers president Jim Cassidy.

“There is not going to be racing for the weekend,” said Cassidy in a brief statement.

Training had been ongoing and racing had been scheduled to resume Thursday.

No training will be conducted on either the main track or the training track pending further evaluation of the surfaces. No timetable was announced, but Cassidy said they are trying to reopen the training track by the weekend to allow horses in training to gallop. None of the nine training fatalities have occurred on the training track, which is situated between the infield and the turf track.

Cassidy also announced that former Santa Anita track superintendent Dennis Moore, who left that position in late December, would be returning as a consultant and would address the state of the main track Wednesday afternoon.

News of the decision to cancel racing was initially reported by Steve Anderson in the Daily Racing Form. He cited Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer of The Stronach Group, in the DRF report on the decision to cancel racing at Santa Anita. Neither Ritvo nor any spokesperson for The Stronach Group has issued a statement on the decision and Ritvo could not be reached for comment.

The decision comes days before one of the most important Saturday cards on the original racing schedule. The Santa Anita Handicap and the Kilroe Mile, both Grade 1 events, were to be run Saturday, along with two Grade 2 events including the San Felipe Stakes, an important prep race for Kentucky Derby hopefuls.

The California Horse Racing Board announced support for the decision to cancel racing at Santa Anita.

“Safety is a primary concern for the CHRB,” said spokesperson Mike Marten. “We support the decision by officials at Santa Anita.”

*UPDATE* March 13, 2019

“The main track at Santa Anita has been reopened for light training following retesting of the surface by veteran trackman and previous Santa Anita superintendent Dennis Moore.

“Everything went well,” Moore is quoted as saying in a press release. “The main track is good. All of the test data support what we experienced.”

Horses were confined to galloping or jogging while timed workouts are not yet permitted. Santa Anita has experienced 21 fatalities since the beginning of its winter season Dec. 26, prompting closing of the track for racing and restrictions to training. The San Felipe Stakes (G2), an important Kentucky Derby prep, will not be rescheduled to run this year and other important races will be contingent on re-opening of the track for racing.”