Popular Del Mar track suspends turf racing after horse injuries

Fri Aug 1, 2014 7:32pm EDT
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By Marty Graham

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - The Del Mar horse track in Southern California has suspended racing through this weekend on its new turf course after a thoroughbred was badly injured and eight other horses died in the last two weeks, race officials said.

The unusually high number of horse deaths at the track just north of San Diego has threatened to detract from its popularity as a destination for summer revelers.

This is the second suspension this week of the turf course at the sunny, coastal race track, which attracted over 42,000 people for the July 17 opening day of its summer season despite declining horse racing attendance nationwide.

Racing at Del Mar will be held this weekend on a synthetic Polytrack surface, organizers said.

Officials stopped racing on the new turf track on Sunday while a crew watered and tended to it. Racing resumed on Wednesday and then a four-year-old horse named Serious suffered a bad leg injury on Thursday, officials said.

Serious had a broken bone in her foreleg that led track veterinarians to recommend euthanizing her, but the owner decided to transport the injured horse to Los Alamitos in Orange County, said California Thoroughbred Trainers Association President Jim Cassidy.

Del Mar Thoroughbred Club spokesman Mac McBride confirmed the track was suspending races on the turf course through this weekend and going back to work on its grass and fences. The racetrack's management in a statement expressed sorrow and concern for the horses hurt on the track.

Since the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club began its summer season on July 17, five horses were catastrophically injured while racing and were later euthanized, with four of them hurt on the track's new turf course, officials said. Two other horses died after being injured while training or exercising, and one died of heart failure, they said.   Continued...