Officials at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., issued a statement on Saturday evening following the fatal breakdown of Emtech in the eighth race on the card. It was the first racing fatality in Southern California since June 9, but the 32nd equine death at Santa Anita since Dec. 26.
The incident occurred in Saturday's eighth race, when the 3-year-old son of Concord Point broke down in the stretch run. The decision was made to humanely euthanize the Steve Knapp trainee on the track when Santa Anita veterinarian Dr. Dana Stead observed that Emtech had broken both front forelimbs.
Jockey Mario Gutierrez was sent to the ground hard, and stayed down until he was tended by paramedics. Gutierrez did stand up under his own power and walk off the course, but was taken off his last mount on the card.
“As is protocol at Santa Anita, we will open an immediate review into what factors could have contributed to Emtech's injury,” said Dr. Dionne Benson, Chief Veterinarian for The Stronach Group. “Santa Anita will work closely with the California Horse Racing Board and will continue to brief our stakeholders and all of our constituents, including the public, as more facts come in. Emtech will undergo a necropsy at the University of California – Davis' School of Veterinary Medicine, as is mandatory for all on-track accidents. The accident and the necropsy report will be reviewed by a team to learn what, if anything, could have been done to have prevented the accident.”
Emtech, then trained by Simon Callaghan, won at first asking in a $75,000 maiden claiming race at Santa Anita on Oct. 6 last year, but a claim on the horse was voided when the horse was placed on the Veterinarian's list.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Emtech failed a workout on Oct. 29 that would have taken him off the list. He did not work again until May of 2019, and he passed the required five-furlong workout on June 20 of this year.
He started back on July 6 at Los Alamitos, and was on the panel's special examination list for races July 6 at Los Alamitos and Aug. 8 at Del Mar. He was claimed in the Aug. 8 start for $25,000 by Knapp, and returned to run second and then win a pair of starter allowance races at Del Mar and then Los Alamitos.
“After passing five examinations and racing successfully for those races, he was not flagged by the [review] panel for special attention in his subsequent races other than his required pre-race examinations,” Mike Marten, a spokesman for the CHRB, told the LA Times.
The statement from The Stronach Group concluded:
“The Stronach Group and Santa Anita safety measures put horse and rider safety above all else. There is an expected level of safety and accountability that is required to participate at a Stronach Group racetrack. If anything less is found which could have contributed to this incident, it will be addressed immediately. Santa Anita and The Stronach Group remain committed to leading transformative change in this traditional sport.”
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