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California track defends safety record after horse is euthanized

ABC News logo ABC News 4 days ago
a group of people holding a sign: File photo: Animal rights activists protest horse racing deaths outside Santa Anita Park on Oct. 24, 2019, in Arcadia, Calif. © File-Mario Tama/Getty Images File photo: Animal rights activists protest horse racing deaths outside Santa Anita Park on Oct. 24, 2019, in Arcadia, Calif.

Santa Anita Park is touting a high rate of safety for the horses that train and race at the facility in the wake of the latest death on its main track.

A 3-year-old horse named Miss Romania was euthanized Wednesday after she suffered a suspected fracture on her left humerus, according to the park. She was euthanized at the recommendation from an attending veterinarian.

MORE: 3 horses euthanized in 3 days at Santa Anita Park

The death was the seventh since the winter/spring season began on Dec. 28 but the 44th since December 2018, ABC Los Angeles station KABC reported. However, it was the first death on the main track, where the majority of the deaths in 2019 occurred, according to the park.

a white horse in front of a fence: Santa Anita racetrack in Arcadia, Calif. © Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images Santa Anita racetrack in Arcadia, Calif.

Despite the highly publicized deaths, the facility boasts a high rate of safety and considers itself the largest training facility in the U.S.

In 2019, horses raced or trained at the facility more than 420,000 times at a safety rate of 99.99%, according to the park.

MORE: Another racehorse dies at Santa Anita Park, raising death toll to 35 since December

Since Jan. 3, when the only other horse in 2020 died on the main track, 9,245 horses have had a timed workout or raced on the main track without a single incident until Miss Romania's death on Wednesday, which highlights that recent safety measures are working, according to the park.

Santa Anita Park has been under intense scrutiny since the number of horse deaths began to rise last year.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom called for Santa Anita to be shut down after it did not heed the California Horse Racing Board's recommendation to suspend racing. At the time, the death toll stood at 29.

Santa Anita decided to continue racing because it believed that the reforms enacted earlier in the year -- which included the elimination of drugs and whips on race day -- were working, a spokesman for The Stronach Group, a company that owns the park, told ABC News in June.

Last month, following the deaths of three horses in three days at the park, a spokesman for the California Horse Racing Board said in a statement to ABC News that the board "is committed to reducing the number of racing and training fatalities."

"We already have introduced many safety measures and still others are going through the regulatory process," the spokesman said.

Those three deaths did not occur on the main track, according to the park, which will continue to consider new safety reforms in the future alongside the California Horse Racing Board.

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