Story was written by: Christina Bravo, NBC News San Diego
Two horses have died after colliding on Del Mar’s racetrack during training Thursday morning, a day after the start of the 2019 racing season, officials confirmed.
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club spokesperson Mac McBride said the two horses were training when they collided on the track at about 6:45 a.m.
Charge A Bunch, being ridden by jockey Geovanni Franco, suddenly turned and ran into Carson Valley, being ridden by jockey Assael Espinoza, DMTC said.
Both horses immediately died from impact and were not euthanized.
The riders were thrown from their horses. Espinoza was injured and taken to a local hospital in unknown condition.
The racing season opened Wednesday under a shroud of controversy following a series of horse deaths at Santa Anita Racetrack in the Los Angeles area. Their racing season ended with 30 horse deaths and the banning of Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.
In response, DMTC officials said numerous changes were made at the track to ensure horse safety, including on-site veterinarians during morning training.
The racetrack did have veterinarians and emergency personnel on site at the time of the accident, so response was immediate, DMTC said.
A statement from the club said, “We are deeply sorry for the horses and their owners, trainers, riders and grooms.”
Bob Baffert, Carson Valley’s trainer, released the following statement in response to his horse’s death:
“This was a very unfortunate accident and it is a shock to everyone in the barn. We work every day to take the best care of our horses but sometimes freak accidents occur that are beyond anyone’s ability to control. This is one of those times and we’re deeply saddened for the horses and everyone involved.”