ARCADIA, Calif. -- 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 his injury was not announced. He was competing in a 1 1/8-mile turf race worth $57,000.
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. Thirty-seven horses died at the Arcadia track last year.
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.
Kathy Guillermo, senior vice president with People for the Ethical treatment of Animals, called for the suspension of horse racing in California.
"The district attorney's weak investigation isn't going to stop the fatalities, so we must rely on the governor and the California Horse Racing Board to suspend racing until every possible precaution has been taken to protect horses," Guillermo said in a statement.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.