Santa Anita Race Track Reopens After Soil Testing Completed in Wake of 19 Horse Deaths

Santa Anita reopened for training and racing Thursday after being closed for two days while testing of the soil from its dirt oval was conducted in the wake of 19 horse deaths during the winter meeting.

Mick Peterson, a University of Kentucky track safety expert, pronounced the main track "one hundred percent ready" after using ground-penetrating radar to ensure uniform consistency throughout the one-mile oval.

Peterson said Wednesday that the radar verified all of the materials, silt, clay and sand, as well as moisture content, are consistent everywhere on the track. Its dirt surface was peeled back 5 inches and reapplied.

Santa Anita has had 11 1/2 inches of rain and unusually cold temperatures this month.

Peterson says any further issues will be addressed because the safety of the horses, jockeys and exercise riders is "our number one priority and always will be."

Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer of The Stronach Group, says track ownership is committed to being held accountable for the safety and security of the horses.

There have been 19 fatalities during the current meeting that began Dec. 26 compared with seven last year. Last Saturday, Breeders' Cup winner Battle of Midway sustained a fatal injury during a workout.

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