TRAGEDY AT CALIFORNIA TRACK
Cross-posted from Recordnet.com
By Kevin Niendorf
STOCKTON — The final day of horse racing at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds was marred Sunday as two more horses sustained broken legs and had to be euthanized, one day after spectators witnessed a similar tragedy at the finish line.
Racing officials, jockeys and racing fans were left shaking their heads and heartbroken once again, with widespread comments of “not again” and “that’s unbelievable” heard among the estimated crowd of 2,000.
“It’s horrible; we haven’t had this all summer,” said Equibase chart-caller Steve Reed, who has traveled the Northern California racing circuit since 1976. “I’ve seen this happen once before, but I couldn’t give you a day.”
Of the four horses euthanized this racing season, three occurred over the weekend in Stockton. In Sunday’s fourth race, jockey Juan Sanchez injured his shoulder after being thrown off Get Your Praise On, which broke its leg 100 yards into the race.
After a 30-minute delay, the fifth race also came to a tragic ending when Secret Nemo stumbled forward on the final stretch as a result of a broken leg. Jockey Joe Crispin was also taken to the hospital with a sore neck, possibly reinjuring a broken neck he was recovering from.
The race horses, owned by Bruce Dillenbeck and Jeffery Chain/Natalie Pettis, were taken to University of California, Davis, medical center for routine necropsies. Showmewhatyougot was transported there yesterday, where all three horses will be tested for — among other things — improper levels of medication.
Larry Swartzlander, chief operating officer of the California Authority of Racing Fairs, said the necropsies may provide a clearer picture of what transpired in Stockton.
“If you want to look for excuses, it’s too much strain and something’s got to give,” Swartzlander said. “These horses have been racing all summer and some of them may have been put out there when they probably shouldn’t have.