A fifth horse has died at Santa Anita this fall, the 35th fatality at the famed Southern California race track since Dec. 26, officials said Friday. Six-year-old mare C Q Covergirl injured both of her front legs while running on the facility's training track Friday and was subsequently euthanized on the recommendation of the attending veterinarian.
C Q Covergirl is the third horse to die on the training track in the last month. She had won six of 16 lifetime races and earned around $200,000, before her premature death.
"If horse racing ever needed a three strikes rule, it's now," said PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo said in a statement late Friday. "Trainer Phil D'Amato's training and medication records need to be investigated and released to the public and the horses still in his barn should be thoroughly examined."
C Q Covergirl was claimed in June for $40,000 by two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Doug O’Neill, though Philip D'Amato had trained the mare for most of her career.
D’Amato also trained Satchel Paige, who died on October 19, and Formal Dude, who died on June 8, Guillermo said.
"When a horse dies, the California Horse Racing Board should suspend the trainer pending a full investigation. It won't bring back the horse, but it might prevent more deaths."
Although there is no rule to suspend trainers following a horse fatality in California, the state's race tracks have seen some changes in the last year.
In March, Santa Anita Park declared a zero-tolerance policy for race-day medications, which may harm horses by pushing them beyond their bodies' physical capacities. In the same month, the California Horse Racing Board voted to limit whips in horse racing. Then in June, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law allowing the racing board to immediately suspend racing licenses to protect the safety of horses and riders, as a response to the climbing horse deaths at Santa Anita.
Still, the iconic race track has seen a significant drop in attendance since the ongoing controversy.
Santa Anita Park is scheduled to host the world championships of racing, the Breeder's Cup, next weekend, marking the end of its fall season.
In the meantime, the body of C Q Covergirl will be sent to the University of California, Davis, for a necropsy, as is protocol.
Both the California Horse Racing Board and the L.A. District Attorney’s Office are conducting investigations into the spike of horse fatalities at Santa Anita.