19 horse deaths reported at Santa Anita racetrack since Dec. 2018

Santa Anita racetrack officials were investigating an unusually high number of horse deaths at the venue Tuesday after it was reported that another horse died during training this week.

A total of 19 horses have died at the track since the Dec. 26, 2018 with the most recent occurring on Monday, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

Charmer John, a 3-year-old gelding, had to be euthanized after he suffered an injury to his left front fetlock. It happened while the horse was being trained and went down after entering the track's home stretch.

Park officials previously announced the closure of the main track Monday and Tuesday to evaluate the surface and soil after it received 11.5 inches of rain and near-record cold temperatures this month.

The park said Mick Peterson, a track and safety expert from the University of Kentucky, would perform testing and evaluate racing surfaces.

The total of 19 deaths is nearly double the number of last year when 10 died during an equivalent period, according to the Times.

In response to the horse deaths, PETA said it cancelled a planned protest at the track after a meeting wiht track officials.

PETA President Ingrid Newkirk issued the following statement:

PETA has cancelled a planned protest at Santa Anita race track following a meeting with track representatives who pledged to take definitive steps, including extending the review of medication records to horses who are in training--and not just before races. Research sponsored by the California Horse Racing Board shows why horses break down and the fault lies with the trainers and veterinarians who drug horses with a cocktail of anti-inflammatories, painkillers, sedatives and more to keep them running when they should be recuperating. This masks soreness and injury - and injured horses are vulnerable to broken bones. Horses who require medication should not be anywhere near a track. PETA believes that there are innumerable problems with horse racing, but, as a bare minimum, all medications should be banned for at least a week before a horse races or trains, which would effectively stop lame horses from being able to run. PETA will continue to meet with Santa Anita officials in the coming days.