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Protesters Converge At Santa Anita Amid Horse Deaths At Racetrack

ARCADIA (CBSLA/AP) — Protesters Sunday converged at Santa Anita following the deaths of 20 horses at the racetrack since its winter meet began on Dec. 26.

About a dozen people gathered with signs that read "Your Bets Cause Horses' Deaths" and "How Many Have To Die?"

The latest incident occurred Saturday during the third race when 4-year-old filly Eskenforadrink was in the lead of the $16,000 claiming race. Jockey Geovanni Franco pulled her up with an injury to her front leg. The filly was taken off the track and later euthanized.

The dirt surface was rated sloppy from rain, but it's unknown whether the track condition played any role in the horse's injury.

Racing at the park continued Sunday with nine contests on the schedule, reported CBS2's Jeff Nguyen.

The fact business went on as usual did not sit well with many of the demonstrators.

"The part that bothers me the most," said Charles Knauf, "is that they're putting them [the horses] in a position where they need to be put down. I mean, look, if everything was safe, we wouldn't have these dead horses on our hands. Here alone. But we don't. So putting them in that situation is just unsafe and I'd like that to stop."

Earlier in the week, Santa Anita closed for two days for extensive testing of its surface. Mick Peterson, a soil and safety expert from the University of Kentucky, proclaimed the track "100 percent ready" to resume racing.

Of the 20 deaths, seven have occurred during a race on the dirt, five have occurred on turf and eight came during training on dirt.

"It's tragic," says jockey Aaron Gryder, "we're all very saddened by it and it's a number nobody's proud of. Any injury on even one horse. But I don't have the answer to what has happened. But I know they have done an extremely good job on the race track. I ride every day and I haven't felt that the track, at any point, was unsafe."

Horses resumed training and racing on Thursday and Friday without incident. Training was canceled on Saturday because of rain.

The weather forecast for the upcoming week calls for several days of rain.

The track plans to close to racing on Thursday because of rain and due to reopen on Friday.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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