30th Horse Dies at Santa Anita Park Since December; Hall of Fame Trainer Banned

A 30th horse has died at Santa Anita Park since the racing season began on Dec. 26, prompting the track to ban the Hall of Famer who trained the animal, track officials said Saturday.

American Currency, a 4-year-old gelding, was euthanized after suffering an injury while exercising on the training track Saturday morning, said Mike Marten, a spokesman for the California Horse Racing Board.

The gelding was the fourth horse who died under the care of Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, Marten said.

The Stronach Group, which operates the Arcadia racetrack, announced banning Hollendorfer later Saturday:

"Individuals who do not embrace the new rules and safety measures that put horse and rider safety above all else, will have no place at any Stronach Group racetrack. We regret that Mr. Hollendorfer’s record in recent months at both Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields has become increasingly challenging and does not match the level of safety and accountability we demand. Effective immediately, Mr. Hollendorfer is no longer welcome to stable, race or train his horses at any of our facilities.”

Santa Anita Park previously announced plans to have more involvement from independent veterinarians ahead of races.

"This horse was not entered to run in any race, so therefore was not reviewed by the panel that was formed to review horses entered to race," Marten told KTLA.

This season's fatalities have drawn scrutiny from officials such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Gov. Gavin Newsom, as well as animal rights activists who have called for the closure of Santa Anita Park.

While racetrack workers have voiced their support for additional safety measures, they emphasized the "human cost" of shutting down the racetrack.

"Our compassion for horses should also extend to the humans who care for them at Santa Anita Race Track," said Oscar de la Torre at a news conference earlier this week.

This season's death toll still trails behind the number of fatalities in 2012, which saw 59  equine deaths.

The racetrack's meet ends Sunday.

KTLA's Judy Oehling contributed to this report. 

Editor's note: California Horse Racing Board spokesman Mike Marten initially said the horse that died Saturday was injured on the main track. This post has been updated. 

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