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Inspection after 21 Santa Anita horse deaths starts Thursday

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Los Angeles (AFP)

An extensive testing inspection and review of Santa Anita's main track will begin Thursday in the wake of 21 horse deaths at the famed California race track since December 26.

Santa Anita officials have suspended racing indefinitely and hired Dennis Moore, the track's superintendent from 2014 until he retired at the end of last year, as a safety consultant in the wake of the equine fatalities.

Track officials said Wednesday that Moore, who has 46 years of worldwide experiences at tracks, will undertake a examination of the one-mile main track while joining Mick Peterson of the Racing Services Testing Lab for addition testing to ensure consistency and uniformity for both training and racing tracks.

Santa Anita also is conducting a comprehensive evaluation of all existing safety measures and current protocols.

"As horse lovers first and foremost, we are deeply saddened by the losses experienced over the past several weeks," said Tim Ritvo, chief operationg officer of The Stronach Group, Santa Anita's owners.

"The loss of just one horse is one too many. While we can't prevent every injury, we can't overemphasize that the health and welfare of the horses and jockeys is our top priority.

"The track will be closed for live racing and training until our outside experts confirm the soundness of the track and let us know that it is safe to resume racing."

Officials at Santa Anita have been in constant communication with the California Horse Racing Board and said key stakeholders supported the decision to close the track while testing was conducted.

All horses that stable at Santa Anita will remain on site.

Santa Anita, one of the most famous tracks in US horse racing, will stage this year's Breeders' Cup on November 1-2.

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