Edited Animal Wellness Press Release — The following story was first reported and appeared earlier at CBS Sports
By Chris Bengel, for CBS Sports –Just last year, 13 horses died at Los Alamitos.
A four-year old filly has become the 17th racehorse to die this year at Los Alamitos Race Course after suffering a sudden death. According to the California Horse Racing Board, Pistachio Princess died in her stall on Monday, Nov. 21.
The filly had 19 starts across her career, which included first place victories at both Santa Anita in March and Los Alamitos Race Course in June 2021. Pistachio Princess was owned by Belico Racing LLC, while her trainer was Lorenzo Ruiz and Edgar Payeras served as the filly’s jockey.
Mike Marten, who is the public information officer for the California Horse Racing Board, said that Pistachio Princess was found dead in her stall on Monday morning, according to CBS News. Her cause of death will be confirmed via a postmortem examination, which will be given under the watch of the University of California at UC Davis.
“Sudden death is defined as an acute collapse and death in a closely observed and previously apparently healthy horse,” Marten said in a statement.
Los Alamitos officials did not reply to CBS News’ request for comment.
Here’s more from Marten on what sudden death is regarding horses:
“As the California Horse Racing Board, with the full cooperation of the racing industry, continues to reduce the number of equine fatalities each year — reduced by more than 50 percent in the last few years — there are fewer musculo-skeletal fatalities associated with racing and training. Therefore, as a percentage of overall fatalities, sudden deaths have become a larger percentage, as the raw number has remained constant. There are not more sudden deaths than before. It just appears so in light of the decrease from other causes.”
In 2022, seven horses have died from racing injuries at Los Alamitos while three have died from training injuries and seven have perished due to other causes. Earlier this year, Los Alamitos Race Course took measures to improve the safety on the grounds following four horse deaths over an 11-day period.
“The death of Pistachio Princess is the 17th we’ve seen at Los Alamitos, and the 57th racehorse death in California this year. Pumping horses full of drugs until their death and ignoring the welfare of these iconic American equines will no longer be tolerated,” Marty Irby, executive director of the nationwide group Animal Wellness Action, told CBS Los Angeles. “If trainers in the sport don’t clean up their act and they continue to fight against the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, then the sport will undoubtedly end up just like animal exhibits at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum Bailey Circus and swiftly wither away.”
According to the California Horse Racing Board, Los Alamitos has eliminated the use of “high toe grabs,” which are similar to cleats that football players would utilize for better traction. The “breaking bar” has also been taken away in quarter-horse races, which serves as a starting block in track meets.
Last year in total, 13 horses died at Los Alamitos — with 11 being related to racing or training injuries. Los Alamitos Race Course was even placed on probation for a brief period in July 2020 after at least 20 horses had died at the track at the time