Mongolian Groom Racehorse Dies at Santa Anita Park, Raising Death Toll to 37 Since December

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Mongolian Groom was euthanized Saturday after injuring his left hind leg in the stretch of the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park, becoming the 37th horse to die at the California track since December.

The 15-1 long shot was part of the early pace in the 1 1/4 –mile race, but appeared to take a bad step before he was pulled up and eased by his jockey during the stretch run of the race.

In front of a crowd of more than 67,000 spectators, the 4-year-old racehorse was loaded onto an equine ambulance and taken to the hospital, where he was later euthanized after a team of four veterinarians determined he couldn’t be saved.

“The death of Mongolian Groom is a loss to the entire horse racing community,” the Breeders’ Cup said in a statement on Saturday night.“Our equine and human athletes’ safety is the Breeders’ Cup’s top priority. We have worked closely with Santa Anita leading up to the World Championships to promote enhanced equine safety. Santa Anita has implemented numerous industry-leading reforms to enhance the existing health and safety measures with the intent of providing a safe racing environment.”

The latest death comes after a number of critics, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, said the Breeders’ Cup was a “critical test” for the future of horse racing in California.

Mongolian Groom had three wins in 16 career starts and earnings of $579,141.

Vino Rosso was the race’s winning horse, but Mike Repole, co-owner of the victor, said before the announcement of Groom’s death that an injury is “the worst part of this game.”

“For us, horse safety is very, very important," Repole said. "Prayers for the horse. Prayers for the connections of the horse. It’s got to be really, really tough. It’s very said."