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Another Horse Dies at Santa Anita Racetrack, Bringing Death Toll to 20 This Year

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American Pharoah runs at Santa Anita Park on Oct. 20, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)

American Pharoah runs at Santa Anita Park on Oct. 20, 2015. (Credit: KTLA)

Santa Anita had its 20th horse racing death since the meeting opened on Dec. 26 when Eskenforadrink suffered a life-ending injury during the third race on Saturday.

The 4-year-old filly was on the lead in a $16,000 claiming race on the backstretch entering the far turn when jockey Geovanni Franco quickly pulled her up with an injury to her front leg. She was taken off the course by van and later euthanized when it was determined she could not recover from her injuries.

Rain had made the track sloppy, although it’s unknown whether the condition of the track played any role in the horse’s fatal injury. It was the seventh death during a race on the dirt track. There have been five on turf and eight during training on the dirt.

The number of deaths became a flashpoint of both concern and criticism at the Arcadia track. Santa Anita brought in a soil and safety expert from the University of Kentucky at the beginning of the week to determine whether there was anything in the dirt that was making the track unsafe. After extensive testing, Mick Peterson declared the track “100% ready” for racing.

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