There were 306 horse fatalities reported in California from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008, according to the latest figures released Friday in the annual report of the California Horse Racing Board.
Of the fatalities, 137 were related to racing injuries, 94 to training injuries and 75 others, a modest improvement over a year's time. In the previous report from Nov. 10, 2006 to Nov. 16, 2007, there were 301 fatalities, with 147 from racing and 97 training. Since then, millions of dollars has been invested under a mandate to change tracks from dirt to synthetic surfaces.
"The question is whether it's going to show an improvement in the next year, and I'm not convinced it will," said Dr. Rick Arthur, Equine Medical Director for the CHRB.
Southern California's strong contingent of fillies and mares will be in the spotlight today, when the Grade I $300,000 Santa Maria Handicap is run as the ninth race in a 10-race card at Santa Anita.
Trainer Bobby Frankel, who sent out 3-year-old filly Stardom Bound to win last week's Grade I Las Virgenes Stakes, will saddle a pair of contenders in multiple Grade I winner Country Star and Visit, the fourth-place finisher in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
The 1 1/16 -mile race on the Pro-Ride surface will also feature Leah's Secret, a Todd Pletcher-trained 6-year-old who was an impressive winner in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff three weeks ago at Santa Anita.
Joel Rosario has the mount on Country Star, with Garrett Gomez riding Visit. East Coast-based Eibar Coa will ride Leah's Secret.