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Injured horse euthanized at Golden Gate Fields; 8th horse to die at track in 2023

PIX Now noon 5/22/23
PIX Now noon 5/22/23 07:26

As of this weekend, Berkeley's Golden Gate Fields had the same number of horse fatalities for 2023 as Churchill Downs, which recently made headlines for a string of racing deaths leading up to the Kentucky Derby.

Animal rights activists are calling for action after the death of a 6-year-old mare following a race on Sunday at the Berkeley track. The death came a day after another high-profile horse death in Baltimore, Maryland during an undercard race ahead of the Preakness Stakes. The owner, whose other horse National Treasure won the Preakness Stakes, is under a two-year ban from Churchill Downs after his horse failed a drug test.

At Golden Gate Fields Sunday, thoroughbred Carolina Mia was the eighth horse fatality this year at the track, according to statistics from the California Horse Racing Board.

Carolina Mia died after being injured at the eighth pole in Race 2 and had to be vanned off, according to the track's race chart. The mare's death is listed as musculoskeletal, and activists said that the horse's left hind leg was dangling before she was pulled up.

Eight horses have died since late April at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, prompting an investigation into the deaths.

The thoroughbred's death at Golden Gate Fields on Sunday is the 28th so far this year at California horse racing tracks, according to the state horse racing board.

"No legitimate sport would tolerate the deaths of 28 of its athletes in 20 weeks in just one state," said Martha Sullivan of the organization Kill Racing Not Horses.

Animal rights activists maintain that domesticated horses live into their 30s, but the average age of active racehorses is three to five years old.

"Even the best tracks in the world kill horses," says Almira Tanner, Lead Organizer with Direct Action Everywhere. "It's not just a random thing. Deaths like these are inherently part of the industry."

Carolina Mia was foaled in April 2017 and earned $219,980 over the past six years for her owner, Margarito Arechiga, according to an Equibase profile on the horse.

Golden Gate Fields didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Monday on the horse's death.

Advocates maintain that horseracing is an archaic spectacle that creates profit off cruelty to animals and people with gambling addictions, serving only to bolster the egos of billionaire owners- and that it is not aligned with the East Bay's historic values of equity and compassion. 

They ask residents of Berkeley and Albany to join them in calling for Golden Gate Fields permanent closure and to support a proposal for the reintegration of its 140 acres back into the community. 

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