Two racing horses were killed after sustaining injuries on the track during races at Del Mar Racetrack in California on Sunday, the racing club confirmed, and a third horse was taken to an equine hospital for possible surgery. The deaths by euthanasia were the first for the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club during a race this year, but they come after a tumultuous year for the sport that has seen almost 40 animals killed under similar circumstances, sparking intense scrutiny.
CBS San Diego reported that Ghost Street, a 3-year-old gelding, was injured during the third race of the day on Sunday, according to race officials, who said the injuries were deemed fatal. A couple hours later, Del Mar announced via Twitter that Prayer Warrior, a 3-year-old colt, was fatally injured during the sixth race. Both were euthanized.
Zoe Metz, the daughter of Prayer Warrior's trainer Jeff Metz who also works as a race photographer, posted on her Twitter account Sunday that "the barn will definitely be the same without him."
Lead race veterinarian Dr. Dana Stead said during a brief Sunday evening press conference that track officials were "deeply saddened by the events today." He said both horses had sustained sesamoid fractures, affecting walnut-sized bones in the horses' ankle joints.
"We are sad to confirm that in today's third race on the turf course Ghost Street suffered a catastrophic injury to his left front sesamoid and was humanely euthanized," the track said separately in a tweet. "We are deeply sorry for owner Aaron Sones, trainer Patrick Gallagher, his staff and everyone who cared for him."
Also injured was Princes Dorian, a 5-year-old mare with 23 career race starts. She "suffered an injury to her left front leg in today's second race on the main track. She is being transported to San Luis Rey Equine hospital for further care," the Del Mar club said in a tweet.
Stead said Princess Dorian had been transported to an equine hospital in Bonsall, California, and might need surgery.
CBS San Diego said images and video of the horses injured and killed on Sunday were edited out of highlight clips posted online by the Del Mar track.
Horse racing has come under heavy scrutiny since a rash of deaths at the Santa Anita Park race track this year. Before the racing season moved to Del Mar this month,, most of them during the summer. The most recent death at the track near Los Angeles, however, was only about a week ago.
Both the California Horse Racing Board and The Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita and other racetracks across the country, reacted to the rash of deaths with new rules to try and protect the animals.
While the deaths this weekend were the first at Del Mar during races this year, CBS San Diego reported that four died there during training over the summer.