Vanned off after breaking down, Arms Runner had to be euthanized and thereby became the track’s 23rd fatality of the winter meet, as reported by Daily Racing Form’s Steve Andersen. Racing had only just resumed Friday from its hiatus for thorough examination of the dirt surfaces as well as implementation of new safety and welfare policies.
The San Simeon was contested at about 6 1/2 furlongs on turf. Arms Runner was traveling well, and improving position, but went amiss just as he was crossing the strip of dirt where the downhill turf links up with the course proper. La Sardane, racing behind him, had no time to react and ended up taking a frightening fall over him. DRF reported that La Sardane apparently escaped with just bruising, although the Thoroughbred Daily News report specified that she sustained a bruised shoulder that could affect her racing career.
Arms Runner’s rider, Martin Pedroza, was able to ride the rest of the card. Ruben Fuentes, who was aboard La Sardane, took off his remaining mounts but thankfully tweeted that he was OK. Fuentes had just celebrated a first Grade 1 score on Ohio in Saturday’s Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1), and La Sardane was a pick-up mount after jockey Joel Rosario’s travel delays from Saturday’s Dubai World Cup program.
Rosario later made it to guide Gypsy Blu to victory in the Irish O’Brien for Glatt, who won two of the three Sunday stakes, all on the downhill turf. The stakes action began with Pee Wee Reese nearly equaling the course record in the Sensational Star, zipping in 1:10.84 for trainer Phil D’Amato and jockey Drayden Van Dyke. The mark of 1:10.73 was set by Eddie’s First on May 11, 2014.
In the San Simeon, Law Abidin Citizen raced in fourth early as 1-2 favorite Conquest Tsunami set the pace through splits of :20.72 and :42.50, stalked by Air Vice Marshal and Cistron. Law Abidin Citizen swept past them in the stretch and clocked 1:11.21 beneath Tiago Pereira. Cistron held second, Mesut rallied from last for third, Air Vice Marshal tired to fourth, and Conquest Tsunami was last of the five to finish.
Arms Runner had been accomplished over that hillside course, scoring his three career wins there including the 2017 Desert Code and a second-level allowance last time out.
Owned by Rockingham Ranch and trained by Peter Miller, Arms Runner shared connections with two-time Breeders’ Cup champions Roy H and Stormy Liberal. Those stablemates are currently in Dubai, where Roy H was scratched from Saturday’s Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) and Stormy Liberal placed third in the Al Quoz Sprint (G1) to Godolphin’s Blue Point and another Miller trainee, Belvoir Bay. Rockingham Ranch is also co-owner of one of the winners from Dubai World Cup day, Golden Shaheen hero X Y Jet.
A five-year-old gelding, Arms Runner was an Overdriven half-brother to another Miller trainee, Grade 3 hero and multiple Grade 1-placed Calculator, both bright grays.
Santa Anita issued the following statement published by Blood-Horse and TDN:
Arms Runner sustained a fatal injury during the San Simeon Stakes today. He was racing over the 6 1/2-furlong hillside turf course this afternoon when, at the dirt crossing, he fell and collided with another horse, La Sardane. La Sardane was walked back to her barn under her own power with no reported injuries. Both jockeys, Martin Pedroza, who rode Arms Runner, and Ruben Fuentes, who rode La Sardane, were examined by on-site medical experts and released from first aid.
While this incident happened during competition on a track that has been deemed by independent experts to be safe, we are working closely with the CHRB to understand if there was anything additional that we could have done to prevent today’s tragedy. Today’s incident speaks to the larger issue of catastrophic injuries in horse racing that The Stronach Group, together with our industry stakeholders, are working to solve throughout California and across the country.