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Santa Anita is suspending racing after 21 horses die at the racetrack, report says

Rajiv Maragh riding Groupie Doll (11) celebrates winning for the second year in a row the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint at the Santa Anita Park racetrack in Arcadia, California on November 2, 2013. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

With 21 racehorses dying while racing or training at the track since December 26, Santa Anita Park is suspending racing at least through the end of the weekend, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The announcement came hours after the death of 4-year-old filly Let’s Light the Way, the newspaper reported. She injured her right front leg while training and was euthanized Tuesday.

“In whole, we feel confident in the track and we’re just being very proactive,” Tim Ritvo, chief operating officer of the Stronach Group, which owns and operates the Arcadia, California, facility, told the Los Angeles Times. “We want to do all the testing that needs to be done. When we believe we’re in good shape, we’ll start to train over it again.”

CNN has reached out to Santa Anita Park but has not received a reply.

Let’s Light the Way was the ninth horse to die after a training injury on the main track, while 12 have died while racing (five on the turf and seven on the dirt track) since December 26, the LA Times reported.

The number of fatalities is almost double that of all of last year, according to the Times, and experts have been looking at the racing surface for irregularities. A test last week found no issues, the LA Times reported.

The park said in a news release that it has hired a consultant to examine the condition of the track “as a precautionary measure.”

“Human and equine safety are of paramount importance” to the consultant, Dennis Moore, the release says. He was the Santa Anita Track Superintendent until the end of 2018 and now works as Track Superintendent at both Del Mar and Los Alamitos, according to the release.

The California Horse Racing Board, which grants licenses racing, told CNN that the board has been “in contact with Santa Anita on an ongoing basis as they have tried to deal with this situation.”

“The Board is now examining other options to prevent additional fatalities,” said Mike Marten, public information officer for the board.

Santa Anita Park was scheduled this weekend to host the Santa Anita Handicap, a race for older horses, as well as the San Felipe Handicap, an important preparatory race to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, the LA Times said.

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