Early morning training at Santa Anita Park

Early morning training at Santa Anita Park

Rick Samuels

Fatal Incident Forces Santa Anita to Halt Training

Xten collided with a horse during a work April 20 and was euthanized.

A fatal incident at Santa Anita Park that also resulted in the injury of an exercise rider shut down training for more than three hours April 20.

Stetson Racing's homebred Xten was euthanized, trainer Tim Yakteen said, because of "neurological" issues that arose after a collision during a workout at the start of the 6:30 a.m. training session on the Santa Anita main track.

According to Yakteen, the 3-year-old Eskendereya colt was working in company when a horse in front of the group ducked in toward the rail. Xten and exercise rider Baltazar Contreras were unable to avoid the trouble and collided with the horse.

Contreras was hospitalized with a fractured knee, Yakteen said, but Xten remained on the track for an extended period of time as Yakteen, Santa Anita staff, veterinarians, and outriders attended to the colt.

Several times during the three hours, the dozen or so people around Xten attempted to encourage the colt to get to his feet, because he had not shown signs of neurological issues and his extremities were functioning. Xten tried on multiple occasions to get upright, but could not. He was eventually carried onto an equine ambulance and transported off the track.

"Santa Anita has such good people—top vets, the gate crew, the maintenance crew," Yakteen said. "They gave him a full opportunity to make it. We were hopeful, because there was no visible trauma. He showed signs of being in shock, but he had full function in all his extremities."

The scenario changed later in the day, and the decision was made to euthanize Xten. Out of the A.P. Indy mare Choral Symphony, Xten raced four times in Southern California, all in maiden special weight company. His best finish was a second-place run at Del Mar Aug. 25, when he came in just a neck behind Ayacara, who has placed in two stakes since, including the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3).

"It's an inherent risk we all take every day," Yakteen said of the training incident. "But when this happens, and the horse and rider are both injured, it's just difficult."

Because of Xten's injury, the Santa Anita main track was shut down for training the rest of the morning, although training resumed on the dirt training track, which is between the turf course and the infield.

Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) contender Rayya had been scheduled to work Friday in company with multiple grade 1 winner Abel Tasman. Instead, Rayya galloped on the training track, and trainer Bob Baffert said both fillies are scheduled to work Saturday.