ARCADIA, Calif.—Star of Africa, a 4-year-old filly, died Oct. 31 from a training injury suffered at Santa Anita Park on the last day of the fall racing season, officials announced.
Star of Africa had 16 starts and three first-place finishes in her career. She was owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and trained by Patrick Gallagher. The jockey as of her last start was Abel Cedillo.
Star of Africa was the fourth horse to die from a racing or training injury during the fall season at Santa Anita. Additionally, Seven Summers, a 2-year-old unraced filly, died from a training injury on Sept. 30, one day before the season began, according to the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB).
And Electric Ride, a 2-year-old filly whose two career starts included one win and one second-place finish, died Oct. 16. Her cause of death is listed as non-musculoskeletal sudden death, with the CHRB also noting anaphylactic shock.
In the calendar year 2021, 19 racehorses at Santa Anita have died from racing or training injuries or other causes. The track reported 20 such deaths in 2020.
Those numbers represent an improvement over previous years. The park endured a storm of controversy in 2018-19, as 37 horses died in racing or training incidents during one racing season, prompting some animal rights activists to renew their calls for a ban on the sport.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office investigated the deaths, and concluded there was no criminal wrongdoing, but made a series of recommendations aimed at improving safety at California race tracks.
A months-long investigation by state regulators in 2019 found no evidence of illegal medications or procedures but determined most of the horses had “pre-existing pathology,” according to a report by the CHRB.
Officials with the CHRB and Santa Anita owner The Stronach Group enacted a series of new rules after those deaths, and Santa Anita officials say they have one of the best safety records in the industry.