Breeders' Cup: Geaux Rocket Ride becomes 2nd horse to die at Santa Anita in 2 days

City News Service
Friday, November 3, 2023
Colt is 2nd Breeders Cup horse to die in 2 days at Santa Anita
Geaux Rocket Ride, a 3-year-old colt who was scheduled to run in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita but suffered a serious injury during a weekend workout, was euthanized.

ARCADIA, Calif. (CNS) -- Geaux Rocket Ride, a 3-year-old colt who was scheduled to run in Saturday's prestigious Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita but suffered a serious injury during a weekend workout, was euthanized Wednesday.

"It is with very heavy hearts that we report that, at the recommendation of the medical team, Geaux Rocket Ride has finally reached peace," according to a statement from the colt's owner, Pin Oak Stud. "His mind and his spirit never quit, but his body never recovered from surgery. He had a very rare response post-op and he wasn't able to stand up again. He fought hard and our team of vets tried everything they could.

"We are appreciative of all of the support that we've received from everyone. We made sure he knew how loved he was. Geaux Rocket Ride was the first member of our Pin Oak family and he will never be forgotten. We will miss you forever, Rocket."

Breeders' Cup officials issued a statement saying, "The immense effort that went into Geaux Rocket Ride's medical care following Saturday's injury is a testament to his team's deep commitment to his wellbeing. Our thoughts are with Pin Oak Stud LLC, Richard Mandella and everyone affected by his loss."

The colt seriously injured his front leg during a workout at Santa Anita on Saturday and later underwent surgery to repair what Breeders' Cup officials called "an open condylar fracture with intersesmoidian ligament damage."

But Pin Oak Stud posted on social media Monday that Geaux Rocket Ride was "having an unexpected response to the surgery and isn't recovering as we hoped. He appears to be in no pain and is eating. Our boy is still fighting hard so we will keep fighting for him."

Another Breeders' Cup Classic entry, Arcangelo, dropped out of the race Tuesday due to an issue with the colt's left hind foot. In remarks posted on social media from Santa Anita, trainer Jena Antonucci confirmed the issue with the horse's foot that "he's not fully resolving, and we're running out of time" to successfully treat the problem before the race.

As Santa Anita Park deals with the fallout of dozens of horse deaths in the past year, track officials will demonstrate new technology designed to identify pre-existing conditions that could lead to horse injuries.

She insisted that the horse is "honestly doing great" and bouncing around in his stall, but needs more time for treatment.

"This will always be horse first, no matter absolutely what," Antonucci said.

Arcangelo had been the second-favorite in the morning line for Saturday's $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic, with odds of 7-2.

Kentucky Derby winner Mage had been expected to run in the Classic but never made the trip to Santa Anita "after spiking a fever last weekend," ESPN reported.

On Tuesday, Practical Move, a 3-year-old colt that was entered in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile -- also scheduled for Saturday -- died at Santa Anita of what is suspected to have been a cardiac event.

Practical Move was returning from a workout on the track when the event occurred. His rider was uninjured and the horse was immediately attended to by veterinarians from the California Horse Racing Board, 1/ST Racing and Breeder's Cup, officials said.

Practical Move last raced on Oct. 6. He won four races in a row including the Santa Anita Derby, San Felipe Stakes and Los Alamitos Futurity.

He had five wins in his career, one second-place and two third-place finishes in eight starts and earned $923,000. He was trained by Tim Yakteen.

Breeders' Cup races -- one of the sport's biggest and most prestigious events -- will be held at Santa Anita Friday and Saturday.

Prior to Tuesday's death of Practical Move, Santa Anita had seen 12 horses die from a racing or training injuries this year, with another eight racehorses dying from "other" causes, according to the California Horse Racing Board. Santa Anita officials have touted safety improvements that have brought down the annual number of fatalities since 2019, when 42 horses died at the track, sparking widespread debate about safety issues at Santa Anita and about horse racing in general.

Breeders' Cup officials insisted in a statement Saturday they've taken all necessary safety precautions for this weekend's event.

"Leading up to the World Championships, the Breeders' Cup has been working closely with Santa Anita Park, the California Horse Racing Board, and our veterinary team to ensure every Breeders' Cup runner is fit to race," organizers said.

"The Breeders' Cup Veterinary Team also coordinated with regulatory and track veterinarians across the country to thoroughly review the veterinary records associated with all potential Breeders' Cup runners starting in early October. This expanded veterinary review protocol is designed to ensure, to the extent possible, every horse that made the trip to Santa Anita Park for the World Championships was sound to race and train.

"Safety always comes first, which is why Breeders' Cup and industry leaders like the CHRB and 1/ST Racing have been longtime advocates for the uniform safety and integrity reforms that eventually became part of HISA. We are constantly evaluating and updating our safety and screening measures so we can continue to provide the safest possible racing environment."