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Santa Anita race track has 1st horse death of the new year after a deadly 2019

Arcadia, California — A horse broke down in the last race at Santa Anita on Wednesday, the track's first racing death of the winter-spring meet after a spate of deaths last year. Golden Birthday took a bad step in the stretch and jockey Victor Espinoza fell off while trying to pull up the 4-year-old gelding trained by Jim Cassidy.

Espinoza wasn't hurt.

Veterinarians recommended that Golden Birthday be euthanized, although it wasn't immediately clear what his injury was. He was competing in a 1 1/8-mile turf race worth $57,000.

Protesters opposed to horse racing and the large number of animal deaths in the sport, hold a demonstration outside the entrance to the Santa Anita Park racetrack in Arcadia, California on October 24, 2019. MARK RALSTON

The winter-spring meet began on Dec. 28, two days later than usual after the track postponed opening day due to concern over rain in the forecast. On Dec. 26, Truest Reward sustained a broken left front leg on the training track and was euthanized.

Santa Anita instituted major reforms last year in an attempt to stem the number of fatalities. A total of 37 horses died at the Arcadia track last year.

34th horse has died at Santa Anita Park racetrack in California 01:54

Golden Birthday had two wins in 10 career starts and earnings of $117,894. A necropsy will be conducted, which is required by the California Horse Racing Board.

The board is expected to release the results of its investigation into the deaths at Santa Anita this month. The Los Angeles County district attorney's office recently found no criminal wrongdoing in its investigation into the fatalities.

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