Dianne Feinstein joins call for Santa Anita to suspend racing

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ARCADIA, Calif. — U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein has joined the California Horse Racing Board in calling for Santa Anita to immediately suspend the remainder of its meet after the deaths of two more horses last weekend.

A total of 29 horses have now died since the track opened for the season in December. The current meet is scheduled to end June 23.

The California Democrat said Monday that “something is seriously wrong,” whether it’s the track surface or problems involving training or medication. She said no one seems to know, yet training and racing continues.

“How many more horses need to die before they act?” she asked, referring to management at the Arcadia racetrack.

Santa Anita has enacted a series of reforms aimed at improving safety but despite its efforts the deaths have continued except during one six-week stretch in which no horses died.

“After extensive consultation among all partners, Santa Anita Park will stay open through the end of its meet to see these reforms through,” said a statement attributed to track owner The Stronach Group, the Thoroughbred Owners of California and California Thoroughbred Trainers.

The groups say since reforms have been enacted, catastrophic injuries at the track have decreased by 50% in racing and by over 84% in training.

“To be clear, there are no acceptable losses and every day we work toward ending all serious injuries,” the groups said. “But the reality is that our improvements and changes have been effective.”

The groups say a detailed and serious epidemiological investigation of all track accidents is underway.

The state racing board has recommended that the track suspend the rest of the meet. However, Santa Anita management has chosen to continue racing.

The CHRB doesn’t have the authority to suspend a race meet or remove race dates from a current meet without the approval of the track operator or without holding a public meeting that requires 10 days’ notice.

The racing board recommended that Santa Anita suspend racing but allow horses to continue training, believing it would provide the industry extra time to fully implement announced safety initiatives.

The California State Senate has passed Senate Bill 469 that would authorize the racing board to suspend a track’s license in order to protect the health and safety of horses and riders. Feinstein urged the state Assembly to pass the bill as soon as possible.

Alpinista overcomes heavy ground to win l’Arc de Triomphe

Qatar Prix de Arc de Triomphe
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PARIS – Alpinista made light work of the rain and heavy ground to narrowly win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Jockey Luke Morris attacked heading into the last furlong and the 5-year-old mare just held off a late charge from Belgian jockey Christophe Soumillon on Vadeni and last year’s 80-1 winner Torquator Tasso, ridden by veteran Italian jockey Frankie Dettori.

“I had a beautiful draw in stall six and after being perfectly placed, there was a second when I thought we were getting drawn into it too early,” Morris said. “But once she had taken charge, I was able to sit on her from 100 meters out.”

Morris felt the conditions would have made it harder for Alpinista to attack the way she did.

“I was concerned when all that rain came but the race went very smoothly,” he said. “I couldn’t believe how it could have in a 20-runner Arc. It was incredible.”

Alpinista was among the pre-race favorites.

“If it hadn’t been my horse, I would have thought it was going to win every inch of the way, but when it’s your own of course it’s a nightmare,” Alpinista trainer Mark Prescott said. “I didn’t think all that rain would help, but she’s never traveled better and has come on with each race.”

It was not yet clear if Alpinista will next race at the Breeders’ Cup or the Japan Cup next month.

Royal silks return as King Charles III’s horse finishes 2nd

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SALISBURY, England – The famous royal silks returned to British horse racing with the first runner under the ownership of King Charles III finishing a distant second at Salisbury.

Educator was the first horse to wear the purple, red and gold silks since the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Sept. 8.

Her oldest son and heir, Charles, has taken on the royal stable and Educator was sent off as the 11-10 favorite under jockey Tom Marquand for the Radcliffe & Co Handicap.

Okeechobee won by 4 \ lengths in the four-horse race.

The queen’s last runner was Improvise, who was beaten narrowly at Epsom on the day the monarch died at her Balmoral estate in Scotland.