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Two horses die after sustaining injuries in practice

SAN DIEGO — Two horses competing at the Del Mar Racetrack have been euthanized within the first week of the 2023 season — both after sustaining injuries during workout sessions.

The first fatality occurred on Friday, a spokesperson for the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club confirmed. The horse, a five-year-old mare named Nevisian Sunrise, was exercising when she lost her rider and ran off, later crashing into a fence post.

In the collision, the mare, who had finished third in last Saturday’s Osunitas Stakes race, sustained severe injuries that veteriarians believed ultimately required euthanasia, Club spokesperson Mac McBride said in a statement to FOX 5.

“(It was) a freak accident,” McBride added. “Attending veterinarians felt there was no choice but to humanely euthanize her.”

Just a day later, on Saturday, a second horse also sustained a non-operable musculoskeletal injury during a workout on the main track and was later euthanized by the attending vet team.

It is unclear how the horse, a four-year-old filly named Ghostem, suffered the injury to her right front leg.

“Del Mar sends its condolences to the people who owned, trained and cared for both horses,” McBride said in the statement.

“Del Mar’s top priority continues to be the safety of our equine and human athletes,” he continued. “While there is always more work to be done, we are proud of the fact that Del Mar has been among the country’s safest race tracks for five consecutive years.”

As with all fatalities relating to horse racing, necropsies will be conducted on both of the horses and results from the investigation will be reported to the California Horse Racing Board.

Nevisian Sunrise had 10 career races and two first-place finishes, according to the industry website Equibase. Her third-place finish in the Osunitas Stakes race on July 22 was her only race of 2023. It was also her only race at the Del Mar track.

She was owned by Alpha Delta Stables. As of her last start, she was jockeyed by Juan Hernandez and trained by Michael McCarthy.

Ghostem had 14 career races and one first-place finish, according to Equibase. She had competed in five races during the 2023 season at the Santa Anita Racetrack. Her only race at the Del Mar Racetrack was in 2021.

She was owned by Fick Brothers Racing. As of her last start, she was jockeyed by Edwin Maldonado and trained by George Papaprodromou.

The two horses’ deaths mark the first fatalities in this year’s summer meet. This is a stark jump from last year’s month-long season, which saw no injuries among horses that required euthanasia over the span of 294 races.

According to the California Horse Racing Board‘s fatality database, seven horses died at the track from non-musculoskeletal reasons during 2022 — four of which were reported racing or training activities.

McBride said the Thoroughbred Club has multiple safety measures in place to ensure the well-being of their equine and human athletes, including extra veterinary oversight and examinations, stringent medication rules, investments in racing surfaces and a care program for retired horses.

“Del Mar has a record as one of the safest major racing venues in North America,” McBride said. “We will continue to focus on the safety and welfare of horses and riders at our facility.”

The Del Mar Racing season began on July 21 and runs through Sunday, Sept. 10.

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