Santa Anita opens fall meet amid scrutiny after horse deaths

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ARCADIA, Calif. — Racing has returned to Santa Anita with the opening of its fall meet amid intense scrutiny after the deaths of 31 horses at the historic track earlier in the year.

There were no incidents during morning training hours or through the first three races Friday. The nine-race card includes three graded stakes races, with two of those winners earning automatic berths in the Breeders’ Cup this fall at Santa Anita.

Aidan Butler, the new acting executive director for Santa Anita and chief strategy officer of its owner, The Stronach Group, says there’s a lot at stake for the track during its 23-day meet.

Butler says officials want to show that Santa Anita is the safest racetrack and the sport of horse racing is a viable sport and “a beautiful sport when done right.”