Racing suspended at Santa Anita Park following spate of horse fatalities

Racing and training has been suspended indefinitely at the world-famous Santa Anita Park in California following the reported death of 21 horses at the venue since December 26.

The announcement comes after four-year-old filly Lets Light the Way was fatally injured on the main track on Tuesday.

Among the other horse fatalities over the course of the past 10 weeks was 2017 Breeders' Cup winner Battle of Midway, who died while training last month.

The closure, which will allow for safety tests to be carried out, forces the postponement of two of Santa Anita's biggest annual events scheduled for Saturday: the San Felipe Handicap, a major Kentucky Derby prep race for three-year-old thoroughbreds, and the Santa Anita Handicap, a lucrative race for older horses.

"The safety, health and welfare of the horses and jockeys is our top priority," said Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer of course owners the Stronach Group.

"While we are confident further testing will confirm the soundness of the track, the decision to close is the right thing to do at this time."

An official statement from the group added: "The Stronach Group has been in constant communication with the California Horse Racing Board and numerous key industry stakeholders who are in full agreement with the decision to suspend racing and training."

It has also been announced that former Santa Anita track superintendent Dennis Moore, who retired from the role in December, has returned to the track as a consultant.

While Santa Anita is closed, Los Alamitos Race Track, around 30 miles south in Cypress, has offered its course for training.

Animal rights organisation PETA had called for the closure of the racecourse prior to the latest death.

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