26th race horse dies at Santa Anita Park

Some believe wet winter has been a factor

By Hollie Silverman, CNN
Harry How/Getty Images

A horse died Sunday at Santa Anita Park in California after sustaining an injury in a race, a racetrack spokesman said.

The horse, named Kochees, is the 26th horse to die at Santa Anita since December.

Kochees was injured during his sixth race on Saturday, according to the spokesman, Mike Willman. He declined to say what injury the horse suffered.

Kochees' trainer and owner, Jerry Hollendorfer, declined to comment when reached by CNN on Sunday.

In a statement, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said, "Santa Anita and all California tracks must suspend racing until the ongoing investigation by the district attorney is complete and the new rules have been strengthened."

PETA and the non-profit Social Compassion in Legislation are working with the Stronach Group, owners of the racetrack in Arcadia, to enact laws and regulations to stop the deaths, PETA said.

In mid-March, the park implemented stringent protocols after the deaths of the first 22 horses and suspended racing and training for a time.

Two days after racing resumed in late March, a 23rd horse died.

The previous death at Santa Anita came last Monday. A 3-year-old thoroughbred named Spectacular Music was euthanized a day after suffering a rare pelvis injury during a race, according to the park.

People connected with the park have said they believe rain from Southern California's wettest winter in almost a decade has been a factor in the deaths. In March, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office assigned investigators to look into the horse deaths.

Santa Anita's racing season ends June 23.

CNN's Stephanie Becker and Darran Simon contributed to this report.

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