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Another Horse Dies At Santa Anita Race Track, The 11th Since Late December

The racehorse M C Hamster was injured during a three-furlong workout along the dirt track at Santa Anita Park this week, fracturing a front left ankle. She was later euthanized.

In a vacuum, this would be a sad event.

But given the Arcadia, Calif., racetrack's recent history, the four-year-old filly's death becomes all the more appalling.

M C Hamster's death is the 11th horse fatality at the track since racing began in late December, according to the Associated Press. The news service also reports the injury happened on just the second day of training has been allowed at the track since last week because of rain.

As NPR has reported there were at least 49 equine deaths at the prominent Southern California racetrack between July 2018 and June 2019. Of those the vast majority of them, 39, were disastrous breakdowns while training or in the midst of a race.

Messages left by NPR for Santa Anita officials were not immediately answered. An email and phone message left at Hansen Racing, which trained M C Hamster have not yet been returned.

Santa Anita has been closed for racing since March 27, following a directive from the Los Angeles County Public Health Department, citing the coronavirus.

The facility was permitted to remain open for training if weather permitted, the Los Angeles Times reports. The paper also notes that M C Hamster's last race was a fifth-place finish at Turf Paradise in Arizona on Feb. 24.

"Since that race, she worked twice at Turf Paradise and was moved to Santa Anita, where she worked four furlongs March 30 and had the second fastest time of 63 horses at that distance. On Wednesday, her time of 35.20 seconds was the fastest of 35 horses going three furlongs," the LA Times said.

The paper also said track officials are scheduled to meet with the local Health Department over the weekend to see about reopening the track for racing, but without fans.

The L.A. District Attorney's office in December issued a 17-page report on the horse deaths at Santa Anita. It made dozens of recommendations to improve safety at the track and to identify preexisting conditions in racehorses.

But ultimately the D.A.'s office found no wrongdoing on the part track officials.

"After a thorough investigation and review of the evidence, the District Attorney's Task Force did not find evidence of criminal animal cruelty or unlawful conduct relating to the equine fatalities at Santa Anita Park," the report.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Brakkton Booker is a National Desk reporter based in Washington, DC.