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Turf Paradise to give pre-race vet exams to all horses after high rate of deaths

The Arizona Department of Gaming found that 45 horses were euthanized during the 2017-18 season at the Phoenix race track.
Credit: AP
A horse is quarantined at Turf Paradise horse track, Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, in Phoenix. Turf Paradise has euthanized one horse and is quarantining two others in the wake of a herpes outbreak that surfaced in New Mexico.(AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — Turf Paradise plans to start giving pre-race veterinary examinations to all horses on a given day in an attempt to curb a recent rise in fatalities.

According to a recent study by the Arizona Department of Gaming, 45 horses were euthanized during the 2017-18 season at the Phoenix track. 

Additionally, four more horses died at the Rillito Race Track in Tucson and the track at the Santa Cruz County Fair and Association in Sonoita also reported one death. 

The total number of 50 deaths is twice the national equine death rate at tracks. 


According to the Department of Gaming's numbers, 42 of the horses that died were thoroughbreds and eight were quarter horses. 

Most of the euthanizations occurred after the horses suffered leg or ankle injuries during a race. Only eight of the deaths were not related to exercise and were categorized as being a result of illness or disease, the Department of Gaming report says. 

Turf Paradise officials announced Wednesday that starting March 18, about 65 horses will be examined on race days.

Previously, about 15 horses received pre-race exams per day based on selections by the stewards.

Turf Paradise has 131 live racing days per year from mid-October to early May.

The thoroughbred and quarter horse racetrack opened in January 1956.

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