News

Santa Anita Park Cancels Racing Indefinitely

Jockey Mike Smith hugs Proud Emma after winning an allowance race (Credit: Ernie Belmonte)

Mere hours after announcing that former Track Superintendent Dennis Moore was returning to help inspect a racing surface that had caused an alarming spike in equine fatalities, Santa Anita Park officials have reportedly made the decision that racing at the Arcadia, California-based venue would be canceled indefinitely. The news was first reported by DRF.com’s Steve Andersen.

The news of Moore’s return came earlier today after Lets Light the Way broke down during the morning training period, becoming the 21st horse to suffer a catastrophic injury since the current meet opened on December 26.

The main track was closed February 26-27 so that a full inspection of the both the main track’s racing surface and its cushion could be performed. Racing surface specialist Mick Peterson was brought in from Kentucky to assist with the inspection, but the results found no evidence of any issues with the track. Racing resumed February 28, but just two days later on March 2, Eskenforadrink broke down during the third race, which was held on the main track.

This Saturday was scheduled to be one of the biggest of the current meet. The headliner was the San Felipe Stakes (G2), a prelude to the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and the Kentucky Derby (G1), which many had hoped would feature the long-awaited return of undefeated juveniles Game Winner and Improbable, both from the Bob Baffert barn. Also scheduled for Saturday’s card was a pair of Grade 1 stakes – the Santa Anita Handicap (known affectionately as the Big Cap) and the Frank E. Kilroe Mile – along with the San Carlos Stakes (G2) and the China Doll Stakes.

There is no reported date for those races to be rescheduled, but track officials seem keen on first fixing the surface before making any scheduling decisions.

The Breeders’ Cup World Championships are scheduled to be held at Santa Anita Park on November 1 and 2.

Growing national scrutiny from news organizations and animal welfare groups prompted the Stronach Group to retain Moore, and the cancelation news hints that last week’s inspection was not enough. For some, news of the cancelation was welcomed with open arms.

Left scrambling in the wake of this historic announcement are the owners, trainers, and jockeys, not to mention the hundreds of on-track employees and backstretch workers. One thing is for sure: this was the right decision.

Stay tuned to RacingDudes.com for more information as it becomes available.

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