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Another Racehorse Death: Filly Dies After Training at Santa Anita


From AP News

ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) — There’s been a horse fatality at Santa Anita, which is temporarily closed for live racing because of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s the tenth death at the track in Arcadia since December 26.

According to the California Horse Racing Board web site, a 2-year-old filly named Smiling Ali died Thursday April 2, 2020. She had yet to race and was trained by Jeff Bonde and owned by Premier Thoroughbreds.

Smiling Ali had just completed a two-furlong timed workout in 25 seconds when she died on the main dirt track. The cause was not immediately determined, although it was believed to be a probable heart attack. A required necropsy will be conducted.

It was the third death on the main dirt track. Four horses have died racing on the turf course, and there have been three fatalities on the training track.

Santa Anita temporarily ended live racing by order of the Los Angeles County Health Department on March 27. However, morning training hours are continuing.

There have been 44 deaths at Santa Anita since December 2018, including seven beginning shortly before the winter-spring meet began after Christmas.


From the Los Angeles Times

By John Cherwa Special Contributor 

April 3, 2020 – Santa Anita suffered its 10th horse death since Dec. 26 when Smiling Ali died on the main track during training Thursday (April 2). Pending a necropsy report, it is believed to be a cardiac event. There currently is no live racing at the track.

Santa Anita had gone 32 days without a fatality, although racing was halted March 27 by orders of the Los Angeles County Health Department because the track was considered a non-essential business. Training has continued six mornings a week, weather permitting.

It was the third death on the main dirt track. Four horses have died racing on the turf course, and there have been three fatalities on the training track. Last year, there had been 23 deaths to this date. Significant reform measures were put in place by the Stronach Group in reaction to a spate of horse deaths last year.

Smiling Ali was an unraced 2-year-old California-bred filly making her first timed workout. She died after completing a two-furlong work. She was trained by Jeff Bonde. According to a fatalities report put out by the California Horse Racing Board, Bonde did not have a fatality last year. The filly was owned by Premier Thoroughbreds.


Another Horse Dies at Santa Anita Race Track

By Brakkton Booker, NPR

April 16, 2020 – The racehorse, 4 year old filly, M C Hamster was injured during a three-furlong workout along the dirt track at Santa Anita Park this week, fracturing a front left ankle. She was later euthanized.

M C Hamster's death is the 11th horse fatality at the track since racing began in late December, according to the Associated Press. The news service also reports the injury happened on just the second day of training has been allowed at the track since last week because of rain.

The Los Angeles Times reported that M C Hamster’s last race was a fifth-place finish at Turf Paradise in Phoenix, Arizona on February 24.

“Since that race, she worked twice at Turf Paradise and was moved to Santa Anita, where she worked four furlongs March 30 and had the second fastest time of 63 horses at that distance. On Wednesday (April 15, 2020), her time of 35.20 seconds was the fastest of 35 horses going three furlongs,” the LA Times said.

The filly was foaled April 3, 2016 (Revolutionary – Go Ballistic, By Empire Maker), according to Equibase.

NPR has reported there were at least 49 equine deaths at the Southern California racetrack between July 2018 and June 2019. Of those, the vast majority of them, 39, were disastrous breakdowns while training or in the midst of a race.


Oaklawn Racing Injuries & Deaths

April 17, 2020 - the Paulick Report:

“Jockey Channing Hill will be sidelined indefinitely after suffering compression fractures in his lower back in a spill during Friday's (April 17) second race at Oaklawn in Hot Springs, Ark. Hill was aboard Easy Street Stable's Muskoka Wonder for trainer Randy Morse in the one mile race for $16,000 claimers. The colt prompted the pace for the first six furlongs, then began to lose ground and fell while on the far turn. Muskoka Wonder was euthanized, according to Hill’s agent, John Gasper.”

[read the full article at:]

Equibase reported similarly: “Muskoka Wonder prompted the pace off the inside, fell far turn, unseated rider.”


Compiled by Nancy Brannon

There were additional horse injuries at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas during live racing in April. Oaklawn does not participate in the Jockey Club’s Equine Injury Database, so it is difficult to determine their safety record. The website Equibase,, does post results of each race run at Oaklawn, and other tracks, but the information is truncated and quite sketchy. However, it is possible to determine if a horse was possibly injured and was unable to leave the track on his/her own after a race. The term used is “vanned off.” A perusal on Equibase of the races run at Oaklawn in April, revealed the horses had been vanned off the track following races in April.

Information from Equibase

In the fifth race on April 16, 2020, one horse was vanned off: Lieutenant Powell (Talamo, Joseph) carried out into the first turn, remained forwardly placed early off the inside, pulled up suddenly before a half, vanned off.

We contacted Ricky Pasternak at Racing, since Lieutenant Powell had been his top choice for race 5 on Thursday (April 16) at Oaklawn. He replied to our inquiry: “He took a bad step in the backstretch and Joe Talamo pulled him up. The extent of the injury is unknown.”

In the third race on April 10, Blowinthebluesaway (Roman, Kevin) ran with the pack outside, gave way in the turn, pulled up and was vanned off.

In race 7 on April 9, House Drunk (Mojica, Orlando), broke to the back, pulled up in the first turn and was vanned off.

In race 8 on April 9, Replete (Baze, Tyler) was off slow, choppy, pulled up soon after, and was vanned off.

In race 4 on April 3, Mighty Manfred (Cohen, David) saved ground when off the pace, pulled up in apparent distress late in the final turn, and was vanned off.

In race 6 on April 5, Kasilof (Garcia, Martin) was within striking distance for almost six furlongs, gave way in the far turn, pulled up, and was vanned off.

In Sunday’s (April 26, 2020) races, three more horses were injured and “vanned off” the track, according to Equibase: Slovak (Joseph Talamo) in race 2 (forwardly placed in the early going, gave way in the far turn, pulled up, vanned off); Rocky’s Warrior (Walter De La Cruz) in race 5 (ith the pace while between horses, dueled out of the turn, pulled up in apparent distress soon after, vanned off); and Midnight Sway (Joseph Rocco, Jr.) in race 7 (steadily faded after racing forwardly and four wide into the turn, pulled up in apparent distress, vanned off).

We wrote to the Arkansas Racing Commission to find out what happened to these horses. We received a reply from Joseph A. Lokanc, Jr., DVM, Commission Veterinarian who stated: “I have no knowledge of what happened to these horses. These were all on track incidents.  Oaklawn is in charge of the racetrack. For information, contact Oaklawn.” Dr. Lokanc recommended Jason Milligan [Director of Operations Oaklawn Jockey Club] or John Hopkins [Oaklawn Plant Superintendant]. I called Jason Milligan, but he said he could not talk to me at the moment and would call me back. He never called back. I got in touch with John Hopkins, but he told me he is not allowed to talk to the press. I left a voice message for Jason Milligan, but he did not return my call.

We made repeated attempts by both phone and email to Jennifer Hoyt, Media Relations Manager, who never responded. We called the Oaklawn main number, but all we got was a recorded message and then the line went busy, so we were unable to connect with anyone by phone.

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