DEL MAR — In equine racing, it’s a dim cloud that sinks stomachs and causes inside voices in still fast corners. It’s a consistent and harsh worry — a burglar of sleep.
On Saturday, one of those meaningful clouds brooded over Del Mar Racetrack.
Three horses suffered critical injuries in morning workouts — one euthanized — and another equine mislaid a life during a competition in front of 21,336. In a accommodate only whiskers comparison than a week, 4 horses are gone.
A day that dawned with expectation and hum for luminary California Chrome in a San Diego Handicap, unexpected stained with sadness.
“It’s a bland nightmare,” pronounced Joe Harper, Del Mar’s trainer and CEO. “We’re all in this business given we adore horses. It affects us.”
The morning injuries piled adult like a multi-car collision on a packaged turnpike — 3 in 10 offensive minutes. Whiskey and Wine had to be euthanized. At slightest 3 chosen trainers — Doug O’Neill, Phil D’Amato and Richard Mandella — deferred workouts for a day.
Later, Dutchessa pennyless down during a finish of a second competition in front-and-center perspective of a bustling grandstand before being put down.
The thespian duel between Kentucky Derby and Preakness leader California Chrome and Bob Baffert-trained star Dortmund thrilled, yet was forced to share a discomforting spotlight. The day offering a best and misfortune in equine racing. It elated. It deflated.
“It can be scary and it gets we thinking,” Baffert pronounced of a unreasonable of injuries. “Sometimes, there is no answer. Sometimes, it’s only bad luck.”
Annual reports from a California Horse Racing Board uncover that state fatalities have forsaken any year given 2007. In a many new information, covering Del Mar’s 2014 season, a lane stood fifth out of 14.
Comparing comforts never truly lines adult your apples to their apples, given a disproportion in competition days, accommodate structures, surfaces and an array of variables. It’s a relocating target, a business of doling out undoubted reason or blame. Del Mar, though, has never risen aloft than fifth a final decade on California’s list of fatalities.
Dr. Rick Arthur, equine executive for both a state house and UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, pronounced means and outcome infer too wily to import during this indicate on a calendar.
“I’ll tell you, 3 breakdowns in (10) minutes, that won’t occur again for years,” Arthur said. “It’s too early to have any thought possibly it’s an emanate or not. It’s too early to take a position on possibly there’s a problem.
“You do have statistical anomalies.”
The numbers uncover equine racing in California has turn safer.
But reduction answers, how do we evasion a dread?
Jeff Mullins, tutor of euthanized Whiskey and Wine, pronounced some of his riders lifted issues about dips and inconsistencies on a mud surface. Baffert, gymnasium of celebrity manoeuvre Mike Smith and other trainers we interviewed, though, reported no apparent concerns.
When asked possibly Saturday would impact destiny decisions about racing during Del Mar, Mullins pronounced options continue to thin.
“There’s nowhere else to go,” Mullins said. “No Hollywood, no Pomona. We’re stuck.”
Felled horses even impacted preparations for Del Mar’s biggest race, a Aug. 20 Pacific Classic. Beholder, California Chrome’s arch opposition in that race, had a examination changed amid a four-legged wreckage.
To Mandella, protected simply trumped sorry.
“Imagine how foolish I’d feel if we worked and something happened and we only saw 3 horses go down,” pronounced Mandella, who emphasized that he and his riders have gifted no issues with competition surfaces.
“… we didn’t have any complaints. But when something like that happens and you’ve got a mare like Beholder, we can work tomorrow.”
Harper, Del Mar’s boss, pronounced a lane identified no commonalities — lane plcae or forms of injuries — that tied any of a difficulty together.
Smith pronounced he unsuccessful to pinpoint a thread, either.
“When it happens, it seems to occur in bunches all of a sudden,” pronounced Smith, who has ridden winners in all 3 Triple Crown races. “It’ll happen, afterwards you’ll go a rest of a accommodate but anything. There’s a observant in life, when it rains, it pours.”
Jockeys would fast pass along any unease, Smith said.
“We’d be a initial ones on a phone,” he said.
Baffert pronounced he had “no perplexity during all” about using Dortmund opposite California Chrome. He breezed dual other horses but occurrence during a uncomfortably eventful workouts.
“I haven’t seen anything where I’d say, ‘You know what, we need to change something,’ ” he said.
The day’s difficulty reinforced a heavy reality.
There are times when answers stubbornly elude, no matter how desperately we search.