Mongolian Groom euthanized after Breeders’ Cup Classic injury; 37th horse to die at Santa Anita since December

Josh Peter


Published 12: 07 AM EDT Nov 3, 2019

ARCADIA, Calif. — Mongolian Groom, a 4-year-old gelding, was euthanized Saturday at Santa Anita Park after breaking its left hind leg during the final race of the two-day Breeders’ Cup.

Jockey Abel Cedillo, who was riding Mongolian Groom during the featured $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, pulled up the horse on the final stretch.

Mongolian Groom was loaded onto a van, which drove the horse to be evaluated by a team of veterinarians who determined the horse could not be saved, according to a Breeders’ Cup statement.

“The death of Mongolian Groom is a loss to the entire horse racing community,’’ the  statement read. “Our equine and human athletes’ safety is the Breeders’ Cup’s top priority. We have worked closely with Santa Anita leading up to the World Championships to promote enhanced equine safety.”

OPINION: Mongolian Groom’s death will haunt horse racing

The death was a catastrophic ending to an otherwise incident-free Breeders’ Cup at the embattled racetrack. A string of horse deaths at Santa Anita — 36, as a result of racing or training, since December — had fueled concerns about the possibility of a catastrophic breakdown taking place during the high-profile races Friday and Saturday.

The 37th death took place down the final stretch of the final race of one of the sport’s marquee events and was televised by NBC.

PETA, which has decried the string of deaths at Santa Anita Park and at other tracks around the country, called on more reform and said, “We will not tolerate another mangled horse.’’

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“This is now non-negotiable,’’ the statement read. “The racing industry must make a choice by doing the right thing by the horses or shutting down forever.’’

Political pressure has mounted, too.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, in a letter sent earlier this week to the executive director of the state’s horse racing regulatory board, called the Breeders’ Cup a ‘’critical test for the future of horse racing in California.’’ California Gov. Gavin Newsom in September told the New York Times that horse racing is a “sport whose time is up unless they reform.’’

In June, the Breeders’ Cup discussed the possibility of moving the event to Churchill Downs or another track before deciding to stick with Santa Anita, which was hosting the event for a record 10th time.

Craig Fravel, CEO of the Breeders’ Cup, told USA TODAY Sports earlier this week that reforms Santa Anita instituted this spring helped ease concerns.

“It wasn’t really that hard a decision because it was the right thing to do and we needed to acknowledge people were taking the right kind of steps that we believe are important for the whole industry to take,’’ he said.

Fravel has dismissed the idea that his accepting a new job with the Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita Park, influenced the Breeders’ Cup board’s decision to keep the event here.

“I take comfort in the fact that we’ve done everything that we can to control the controllable,’’ Fravel said. “What misfortune could occur that we can’t avoid, I worry about it but that’s just because I’m a worrier, not because we haven’t done everything we can do to address it.’’

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Mongolian Groom, who won three times in 17 starts and earned $579,141, was an overachieving horse. He sold for $11,000 at a yearling sale and $12,000 at a 2-year-old sale.

After the race, he was attended to by a team of veterinarians led by Ryan Carpenter at the Santa Anita equine hospital, according to the Breeders’ Cup.

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