Three-year-old filly Princess Lili B broke down during a half-mile workout at Santa Anita Thursday, becoming the 22nd horse to die in racing or training since the meet began Dec. 26.
Princess Lili B was in training for her third career start, after finishing ninth in her debut Dec. 29 in a $50,000 maiden claiming race and fifth in her second start Feb. 18, a $20,000 maiden claiming event. Her veteran trainer, David Bernstein, also owned and bred the filly along with Elizabeth Philippian.
Thursday's breakdown occurred at the finish line of the main track at the end of Princess Lili B's breeze.
“It's devastating,” Stronach Group chief operating officer Tim Ritvo told Fox 11's Good Day LA morning show. “She's a low-risk filly, meaning she'd run twice in her life. She's a 3-year-old filly with a good work pattern. Ran as early as February. No starts on sealed tracks or muddy tracks. So we are just perplexed by what has happened, and devastated. We have complete confidence in the track with the greatest track crew in America. It's just a devastating time for all of us.”
Ritvo said Princess Lili B would been sent for a necropsy to see if it might reveal more information. The filly's exercise rider sent she felt fine and then all of the sudden went bad.
Like all horses under a new policy at Santa Anita, Princess Lili B's trainer gave 24-hour notice of her workout.
“This horse was examined as they come on the track as all of them are,” said Ritvo. “They got permission to work, based on looking at the past performances. We denied a bunch of horses that maybe have been off a long period of time. All of these things, the protocols and processes are put in place to prevent this from happening and unfortunately sometimes this happens. We are going to continue to try and improve those process and continue to look at what we are doing. All of us.”
Ritvo reiterated Santa Anita's confidence in the racetrack, which continues to undergo investigation by former Santa Anita superintendent Dennis Moore, who has been brought back as a consultant.
“Hundreds of horses have worked over the last three or four days with no incidents,” Ritvo said. “One is too many but we will continue to move forward because we are confident in the racing surface. We've gotten great reports from people who have gotten over the track the last few days.”
Training resumed Thursday morning after the incident and Ritvo said racing is still scheduled to resume March 22. Today was the second day of training since the track was shut down last week. Wednesday, Santa Anita reported that 112 horses worked safely over the main track and another 84 over the training track. There have been no fatal breakdowns over the training track during the meet.
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