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Santa Anita Suspends Races After 21st Horse Dies in Less Than Three Months

Twenty-one horses have died at Santa Anita Park since Dec. 26, sparking protests and investigations.

Santa Anita has suspended racing indefinitely after another racehorse suffered a fatal injury on Tuesday morning, the 21st at the track since Dec. 26.

The Associated Press reported that a filly trained by Ron McAnally pulled up with an injury during morning training and was later euthanized. This is the second death since a soil expert pronounced the track "100% ready" to resume racing early last week. Racing has been cancelled at the track for Thursday and will resume Friday. However, the track is still open for training. The deaths have come in different circumstances: nine occured during a race, five on the turf and seven during training. The track was closed for two days last week as it underwent testing, but reopened over the weekend.

The large number of deaths has drawn protests and a complaint from PETA, which said:

"20 dead horses is 20 too many and the only responsible action is for the track to close immediately to stop this spiral of deaths."

According to the Los Angeles Times, 10 horses died at Santa Anita in the same timespan last year, and eight in 2016-17, making the 21 fatalities extremely abnormal. 

The reasons for this string of fatalities is unknown. Rainy weather in Southern California has been blamed for the issues. PETA has blamed veternarians and trainers for dosing horses with cocktails of anti-flammatories and painkillers to keep them running while they are injured.