Golden Birthday was injured and euthanized in the last race of the first day of racing in 2020 in Santa Anita Park in California.
It was a sad start for the Arcadia track. 37 horses died at the track in 2019, which led to many safety changes and outcry from animal rights groups.
Golden Birthday had a bad step in the stretch run of the race. Experienced jockey Victor Espinoza tried to pull up the horse after the bad step and was thrown from the saddle. He wasn’t seriously injured in the fall. The injury was labeled a hind pastern fracture with sesamoid involvement.
All race track horse deaths require a necropsy, and the California Horse Racing Board has been investigating the spate of horse injuries at the track. A report with the findings of the board is expected in late January.
In December 2019, prosecutors in California declined to press charges related to the deaths at the track and stated that they found nothing to lead them to believe that there’s any animal cruelty or other types of crime being conducted at the track. The practice commonly known as “doping” is legal at California race tracks, but many groups are calling for it to be banned.
One of the most outspoken people speaking out about the deaths of horses at Santa Anita is the senior vice president of PETA, Kathy Guillermo. She issued the following statement:
“The district attorney’s weak investigation isn’t going to stop the fatalities, so we must rely on the governor and the California Horse Racing Board to suspend racing until every possible precaution has been taken to protect horses.”
Guillermo is calling for all horse racing to be suspended. She stated that California racing officials have made strides toward protecting horses, but she believes they haven’t done enough.
While the number of horse deaths per 1,000 races at Santa Anita was up from the previous year, the 2.04 deaths per 1,000 were lower than the 2.73 deaths per 1,000 races at Churchill Downs and slightly higher than the 1.68 deaths per 1,000 race national average.
Golden Birthday was foaled on February 2nd, 2016 from Golden Balls and Mindy’s Birthday. The breeder was DP Racing and the owner was DP Racing LLC. Golden Birthday was trained by James Cassidy.
The horse had 10 starts in its career, with two first-place finishes and two second-place finishes. Career earnings were $117,894.
Victor Espinoza, the jockey in Golden Birthday’s last race, has been a jockey since 1993. He has over 3,400 first-place finishes, over 3,200 second-place finishes, and over 3,000 third-place finishes in over 22,000 starts and career earnings over $201,000,000.
Espinoza won the Kentucky Derby on War Emblem, the Breeder’s Cup Classic on American Pharoah, and the Dubai World Cup, the Kentucky Derby, and the Preakness Stakes on California Chrome. California Chrome had career earnings of $14,557,800 and American Pharoah had career earnings of $8,648,800. American Pharoah was the Triple Crown winner in 2015.
The trainer, James Cassidy, has been training horses since 1989 with over 4,000 starts, over 420 first-place finishes, over 460 second-place finishes, and over 460 third-place finishes, and almost $30,000,000 in career earnings.
DP Racing LLC first had horses race in 2007 but didn’t have more than $31,338 in earnings in a year until 2014. Horses owned by DP Racing have over 1,500 starts, over 150 first-place finishes, over 170 second-place finishes, over 180 third-place finishes and is closing in on $10,000,000 in career earnings.