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26th Horse Euthanized At Santa Anita Park

ARCADIA (CBSLA)  -- Another day, another horse death.

A 26th horse was euthanized Sunday at Santa Anita Park -- after suffering a leg injury during a race yesterday.

The track's racing season began on December 26.

Officials said the latest horse to be put down was Kochees, a 9-year-old gelding.

He was the third horse to die at Santa Anita in the last nine days. The track had gone several weeks without a fatality.

The Los Angeles Times, which was first to report Kochees' death, said the horse was taken off the course in a van and left overnight in his stall with a splint on his injured leg.

The Times said surgeons weighed an operation, but learned Kochees had lost blood flow to the leg and the decision was made to euthanize.

Mike Willman, Santa Anita's director of publicity, confirmed the details of the Times account, and told City News Service that "every effort was made to save the animal."

PETA's Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo issued the following statement:

"Santa Anita and all California tracks must suspend racing until the ongoing investigation by the district attorney is complete and the new rules have been strengthened. Decreasing the number of broken bones is not enough. PETA and Social Compassion in Legislation are currently working with TheStronach Group and the California Horse Racing Board to enact new regulations and laws to stop all deaths. Nothing short of a zero-fatality rate is acceptable."

Los Angeles County DA Jackie Lacey last month announced the creation of a task force to investigate the deaths.

Santa Anita was closed to racing for most of March while authorities studied the racing surface for possible causes contributing to the deaths. Some observers have speculated that this year's unusual level of rain is playing a role in the fatalities. Santa Anita's owners brought in national experts to conduct days of testing on the track's soil, but no problems were found.

In early April, Santa Anita officials announced a series of new measures to help bolster the safety of horses at the track including restrictions on certain medications, requiring trainers to get permission in advance before putting a horse through a workout and investing in diagnostic equipment to aid in the early detection of pre-existing conditions.

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