Eight horses put down in nine days of racing - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Eight horses put down in nine days of racing

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DEL MAR (CBS 8) - It's been a deadly season at the Del Mar racetrack. An eighth horse was euthanized Sunday morning in just nine days of racing.

And half of those unfortunate deaths occurred while racing on Del Mar's vaunted new turf track, which helped the race track win the Breeders Cup in three years.

That track is now undergoing some intense maintenance before it will be used again.

It has been a rough couple weeks at Del Mar since the racing season began with track officials confirming that -- so far -- eight horses have been euthanized.

Four of those horses had to be put down after breaking down while racing on the new turf track. Two of them just yesterday -- when "Lil Swiss Echo" injured her right foreleg during the fifth race -- and in the ninth race, "J Kat" suffered severe injuries to his left front leg.

On Friday's sixth race, Jockey Brice Blanc was thrown off his horse, called "Yes, She's Unusual" when she stumbled after a severe injury and also had to be euthanized.

Earlier this year, track officials had touted this new, wider turf track as being able to safely accommodate a field of 14 horses which proved crucial in helping Del Mar compete for and ultimately secure the 2017 Breeders Cup.

Joe Harper, President and CEO of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, spoke to CBS News 8's Larry Himmel in March.

"We've been talking about this for five years... Every since the Breeder's Cup got into our sights... They won't have any more excuses not to come here."

But these four deaths on the new turf track now have Del Mar officials scrambling, moving two turf races scheduled for Sunday to the polytrack, while the turf is being aerated and watered, and scheduled maintenance is moved up.

Track crews will be continuing this maintenance work, which began last night, thru Tuesday. At this point, racing on the turf track is expected to resume on Wednesday.

In a written statement, Del Mar track officials said that they are "deeply saddened by the loss of thoroughbred lives" over the past two weeks and that they have the "utmost confidence" in the turf track.

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