32nd horse dies at Santa Anita since December after breaking down in home stretch

Ryan YoungYahoo Sports Contributor
Track personnel attend Emtech, a 3-year-old colt, after he went down in the stretch at Santa Anita on Saturday. The colt as euthanized, marking the 32nd death at the racetrack since December. (AP/Beth Harris)
Track personnel attend Emtech, a 3-year-old colt, after he went down in the stretch at Santa Anita on Saturday. The colt as euthanized, marking the 32nd death at the racetrack since December. (AP/Beth Harris)

A 3-year-old colt was euthanized after collapsing during the home stretch in the eighth race at Santa Anita on Saturday afternoon, according to the Associated Press, marking the 32nd horse to die at the famed Southern California track since December.

Emtech was on the final stretch of the race when he landed near the inner rail, sending two-time Kentucky Derby winner Mario Gutierrez flying. He was taken away by ambulance, however wasn’t injured, per the report.

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Emtech suffered two broken front legs, per the Associated Press, and was euthanized on the track.

A review will be opened to determine the factors that contributed to the colt’s injury.

“There’s an expected level of safety and accountability that is required to participate at a Stronach Group racetrack,” The Stronach Group, which owns the Santa Anita track, said in a statement. “If anything less if found which could have contributed to this incident, it will be addressed immediately.”

Emtech is the 32nd horse to die at the track since December

The Santa Anita racetrack has now lost 32 horses since the season began on Dec. 26, something that has sparked massive backlash both in Southern California and across the country.

The track saw a major spike in deaths early in the season, and lost 16 horses by Feb. 10 — compared to just seven at that point the year before. Santa Anita closed the track in March to install new safety measures, including banning the use of whips and medications on racing days. It even banned Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer from the racetrack completely after four of his horses died there this year.

Those measures, however, haven’t slowed the growing criticism of the sport. California Gov. Gavin Newsom took aim at horse racing in general this week, too, saying that it’s “time is up” if significant changes aren’t made in order to protect its animals.

“I’ll tell you, talk about a sport whose time is up unless they reform. That’s horse racing,” Newsom said. “Incredible abuses to these precious animals and the willingness to just to spit these animals out and literally take their lives is a disgrace.”

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