A 9-year-old horse's early end was the latest in a string of deaths at Santa Anita Park, a thoroughbred race track

By Helen Murphy
May 28, 2019 11:43 AM
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Keith Birmingham/Digital First Media/Pasadena Star-News via Getty

A 9-year-old horse named Kochees was the third horse in nine days to die at Santa Anita Park, a thoroughbred race track in Arcadia, California, and the 26th horse to die at the race track since the end of December.

Mike Willman, Santa Anita’s director of publicity, confirmed to PEOPLE that Kochees was injured in a race on Saturday and was euthanized one day later.

Willman explained that Kochees had suffered an ankle fracture during the race, adding that “an exhaustive effort” was made to remedy the injury.

PETA senior vice president Kathy Guillermo issued a statement after the death of Kochees calling for all California race tracks to be suspended “until the ongoing investigation by the district attorney is complete and the new rules have been strengthened.”

“Nothing short of a zero-fatality rate is acceptable,” the statement read.

In early March, Santa Anita Park suspended all live racing and training at the facility, but racing resumed later that month, according to CNN.

The suspension was announced after 21 horses died at the facility in 10 weeks.

It is unclear if the track conditions have had a role in any of the fatalities, but the Arcadia area had recently experienced a bout of bizarre weather, including 11.5 inches of rain, that could’ve affected the track’s conditions.

During the suspension, experts evaluated the dirt surface of the track, but no problems were found, CBS reports.

According to CBS, the Los Angeles County District Attorney has announced the creation of a task force to investigate the string of deaths.