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Seven horses euthanized in Del Mar's first eight days of races

Posted: 11:26 PM, Jul 25, 2016
Updated: 2016-07-26 15:28:52Z
DEL MAR, Calif. -- In the first eight days of races at the Del Mar Racetrack, veterinarians have had to euthanize seven horses. 
 
The second race on Sunday started with six horses. But one minute in, at the far turn, number four Fasnocloich, a six-year-old mare broke down and fell behind. Fasnocloich suffered a broken foreleg and had to be euthanized. 
 
Fasnocloich was one of seven horses that veterinarians had to put down in Del Mar's first eight days of races. 
 
"Right now, unfortunately we are in a run of bad luck here,” said Del Mar Thoroughbred Club spokesman Mac McBride. 
 
McBride says one of the first things their maintenance crew did after horses got injured was check in with the jockeys and trainers to see if they noticed anything off on the tracks.
 
“There isn't something we can point our finger at and say 'they're all doing this and therefore this is happening,'” said McBride. “If that was the case, of course, we'd eliminate that."
 
Dr. Helmuth Von Bluecher is a veterinarian who has worked on race horses for Southern California racetracks for 45 years. He didn't euthanize any of the horses injured recently, but he has had to put down some in the past. 10News asked why horses have to be euthanized.
 
"Oftentimes, it's the humane thing to do. We don't take that procedure lightly,” Von Bluecher said.  “And we do reserve it only for those horses we feel cannot be healed."
 
Over the weekend, a few people demonstrated outside the racetrack calling horse racing cruelty to animals.
 
But the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club maintains the horses are cared for every step of the way.
 
"These guys virtually live with these horses and they know them,” said McBride.
 
These horses don't race unless vets check them four different times on race days. 
 
“If there's anything, we do not allow that horse to race,” added McBride. 
 
Young horses or those who haven't raced at all or raced much, they go through what's called paddock schooling.
 
"When race day comes, when they have to do this, they're comfortable with it,” said McBride. 
 
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club says it'll redouble its efforts to maintain safety off and on the tracks.
 
"I think this run of bad luck is going to stop and we're going to hope good luck will take its place,” said McBride.
 
Last year, vets put down nine horses. The year before, they euthanized 11. And in 2013, they euthanized four. 
 
There are about 30 more race days left in the racing season, which ends on Labor Day.