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A high-stakes weekend of important races is approaching for Santa Anita Park — the racetrack where 23 horses have died since December, rocking the industry.
On Saturday, the track will host the Santa Anita Derby, a $1,000,000 West Coast steppingstone to qualify for the 2019 Kentucky Derby.
There are 36 runs scheduled between Thursday afternoon and Sunday.
Over 39,000 spectators attended the event in 2018, and watched hometown favorite Justify win the race on his way to becoming a Triple Crown winner.
But this year’s Santa Anita Derby comes on the heels of a 24-day suspension of racing at the facility, following the deaths of 22 horses. A 23rd horse, the 5-year-old colt Arms Runner, was euthanized on Sunday — just two days after the track reopened — after he fell and collided with another horse during the San Simeon Stakes.
Neither the California Horse Racing Board nor the Stronach Group would comment on a contingency plan for Saturday, should a fatal accident occur in the two days leading up to the crown jewel.
The park says no horses have been withdrawn from the Santa Anita Derby due to concerns over concerns over the latest deaths.
As early morning training sessions continue this week, the mood at Santa Anita can be described as cautiously optimistic.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert — whose robust roster of trainees includes recent Triple Crown winners Justify and American Pharoah — plans to race two up-and-coming horses this weekend. His undefeated 3-year-old colt, Game Winner, will go head-to-head against some of the fastest horses around the country.
“Luckily, I haven’t had any issues,” Baffert told reporters during the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s media teleconference on Tuesday. “If I thought there was a danger out there, I wouldn’t even leave my horses out there. I’m feeling good about what’s going on here, but I don’t want to jinx myself.”
Source from:CNN News