Santa Anita Park reopened a training track Friday morning so their stabled horses could stay active amid an investigation into the deaths of 21 of the animals over the past 10 weeks.
The training track is located inside the 1-mile main track and has not been linked to any fatal injuries, according to a news release from the Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita Park.
“Like all athletes, horses need to stay active, so this is a good decision for their overall health since it allows our horses to get out of their stalls and keeps them moving to aid their digestion,” Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said.
Use of the inner track at the Arcadia horse-racing park will be limited to galloping or jogging only, the news release stated.
The main track could reopen Monday for galloping and exercise, then possibly be used for workouts by the end of next week, the Stronach Group's Chief Operating Officer Tim Ritvo told the Los Angeles Times.
Meanwhile, a team of investigators are trying to determine what led to the deaths of 21 horses at the famed Southern California raceway in recent weeks. The deaths come as the region has seen record-breaking rain.
Last year, 10 horses died at Santa Anita Park over the same period.
Santa Anita spokesman Mark Willman believes the injuries are "multifaceted," but that rain is likely the biggest factor.
Track officials have canceled all racing – including Saturday’s $500,000 San Felipe Stakes for Kentucky Derby hopefuls. But they're hoping to make all necessary improvements and have the track deemed safe for racing to resume around March 22, Ritvo told the newspaper.
“Everything is fluid,“ Ritvo said.
Ritvo said the track would only reopen with approval from Dennis Moore, a former track superintendent who was brought back to Santa Anita to help make the track safe.
Santa Anita Park is set to host the Breeders’ Cup world championships in November for a record 10th time.