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Santa Anita racetrack has 20th horse death

Image: Horses race at the Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita
Horses race at the Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California, on Nov. 4, 2016. Copyright Joe Scarnici Getty Images file
Copyright Joe Scarnici Getty Images file
By Janelle Griffith with NBC News U.S. News
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It is the 20th horse racing death at Santa Anita Park since Dec. 26.


A famed Southern California thoroughbred track had its 20th horse death in just over two months after a 4-year-old filly suffered a serious injury during a race on Saturday.

Eskenforadrink injured her right foreleg and was euthanized, the California Horse Racing Board said.

The death comes just days after the park reopened its main track following a rash of 19 horse deaths.

Rick Arthur, medical director of the state horse racing board, said a necropsy will be performed on Eskenforadrink, he told NBC Los Angeles.

It was the seventh death during a race on the dirt track since late December. There have been five on turf and eight during training on the dirt.

Santa Anita shut down its main racing surface for two days last week as officials examined the track for any problems with the soil. Regularly scheduled workouts on the dirt were canceled on Monday and Tuesday. It reopened on Thursday.

While deadly accidents are always a threat in horse racing, the recent number at Santa Anita stands out. There were about 10 horse deaths at Santa Anita in the same period of 2017-18, eight in 2016-17 and 14 in 2015-16, according to data from the California Horse Racing Board.

A spokesman for Santa Anita Park did not immediately return NBC News' request for comment.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) issued a statement calling for the track to close.

"Twenty dead horses is 20 too many and the only responsible action is for the track to close immediately to stop this spiral of deaths," PETA said. "The California Horse Racing Board and Santa Anita must do this now, and law enforcement must begin an immediate investigation of trainers and veterinarians to find out if injured horses were being forced to run."

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