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Horse Injured, Euthanized After Morning Workout At Del Mar Racetrack

The Grandstands and the Del Mar racetrack July  2017

Photo by Alison St John

Above: The Grandstands and the Del Mar racetrack July 2017

A 3-year-old filly suffered a fatal injury during a morning workout at the Del Mar Racetrack.

Lovely Lilia pulled up after the workout at about 5 a.m. Saturday and veterinarians said the horse could not be saved and was euthanized, according to Mac McBride, Del Mar's director of media.

Lovely Lilia was pulled from her final appearance, a mile turf race at Santa Anita Park June 12, which she led at the halfway point.

Lovely Lilia made seven starts, winning twice and finishing second once, earning $37,551.

Del Mar began its 81st summer meet Friday with no fans in the stands for the first time because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The meet's horse and rider safety initiatives amplified measures Del Mar introduced over the last several seasons of racing that led it to being recognized as one the nation's safest racetracks for 2018 and 2019, according to figures from The Jockey Club's Equine Injury Database provided by the track.

Del Mar had a rate of 0.79 fatal injuries per 1,000 starts in 2018 and 0.62 in 2019. The national average for track's reporting was 1.68.

While there were no racing deaths, there were four training deaths during last year's summer meet and three racing deaths and two in training during the fall meet.

RELATED: Del Mar Opens Season Friday Without Fans In the Stands

Del Mar is continuing its Entry Review Panel of regulatory veterinarians who will oversee the entries of all horses and provide an additional review of each of their medical, training and racing histories. The panel will recommend to the track's stewards that any horse it deems unfit for competition be barred from racing.

Del Mar officials said the track is furthering its adoption of reforms modeled after the International Federation Horseracing Association requirements. Rules surrounding nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories have been enhanced and extended, and additional rules regarding other equine medications have been clarified and codified.

Random testing will continue for any horse at Del Mar, including ones readying for, or having just completed, morning workouts.

Just as they were last summer, veterinarians are stationed at elevated observation points at the facility to oversee morning workouts and will have the ability — through communication with outriders — to remove horses from the racetrack and have them undergo a follow-up soundness examination.

Exercise riders and jockeys again will be prohibited from using a riding crop to encourage their horses during morning workouts.

The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club created a stakeholder advisory committee last summer, represented by trainers, veterinarians, jockeys, racing surfaces maintenance personnel and management that met regularly to discuss safety practices, operations and track surfaces. The committee will also be in session during the 2020 meet.

"Safety and health will be our focus for the people involved with putting on this year's extraordinary race meet, but we'll also be continuing with our safety reforms for the wellbeing of our riders and horses," Del Mar Thoroughbred Club CEO Joe Harper said before the start of the meet.

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