California race track closes main track following death of 19th horse in 2 months

A Southern California race track has shut down its main racing area for two days following 19 horse deaths in two months.

The main surface at the Santa Anita Park racetrack in Arcadia will reopen Thursday so moisture content and soil consistency below the surface can be checked. The dirt surface was peeled back several inches on Tuesday so it could be examined.

The closure comes as the thoroughbred race track reels from 19 horse fatalities that began Dec. 26, compared with just 10 in the same time period last year. The most recent death was a 3-year-old gelding named Charmer John who suffered an injury during training Monday and had to be euthanized, the Los Angeles Times reported.

An abnormal amount of rain in recent months – more than 11 inches – is being looked at as a possible mitigating factor. Six horse deaths have occurred during dirt racing and five during turf racing, according to the paper. Monday was the eighth death during training.


Live racing is expected to resume Thursday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.