Horses race at Golden Gate Fields in Berkeley. The sport is being called into question again following the death of Elegant Sundown during a race at the facility this month. (Photo by Strange Biology/Flickr)

A horse was euthanized this month after an injury in a race at Golden Gate Fields in Berkeley, another California horse racing death following a number of deaths last year in Southern California.

Elegant Sundown was put to sleep in a van after a “catastrophic” injury to his right foreleg. He was 3 years old.

It is not the first death in Northern California. At least 20 horses died at Golden Gate Fields in 2019, said Patrick Battuello, founder and president of Horseracing Wrongs.

Battuello’s group has been advocating for the end of horse racing.

Thirty-eight horses died last year at Santa Anita Park in Southern California, which raised concerns in the horse racing community. Golden Gate Fields and Santa Anita Park are two brands of The Stronach Group based in Ontario, Canada, and the only two California horse racing operations in the company’s portfolio.

The Stronach Group did not immediately respond to a request for a comment on Elegant Sundown’s death.

The California Horse Racing Board, which regulates horse racing in the state, recently announced a decision to move its meetings for the next six months to Northern California from Southern California.

Battuello believes the decision was due at least in part to the attention his group has given the board since last spring.

Heather Wilson, Horseracing Wrongs West Coast coordinator, said of the board, “They don’t like to be questioned,” adding that board members interrupted and argued with members of Horseracing Wrongs at one or more meetings.

But board spokesman Mike Marten said on Twitter that the meetings were moved because Santa Anita Park no longer wanted to host them “and is not obliged to.”

He said, “At the same time, it is appropriate to hold the meetings at state facilities.”

He added that board officials think it is appropriate to have meetings where government staff and lawmakers in Sacramento can more easily get to them. The horse racing board hopes to hold an equal number of meetings in the north and the south, Marten said.

Battuello said horse racing is still getting a pass when greyhound racing is all but dead and Ringling Bros. Circus is no more.

“We are seeing the beginning of the end of horse racing,” he said.

Keith Burbank is currently a fulltime reporter covering Alameda County and Oakland news for Pagransen. He has also worked on the Data Points project for Pagransen, finding trends and stories about the region through data. In 2019, he was a California Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, producing a series about homeless deaths in Santa Clara County. He worked as a swing shift editor for the newswire for several years as well. Outside of journalism, Keith enjoys computer programming, math, economics and music.