04/12/2013 3:39PM

Baffert calls sudden deaths 'personally troubling'


ARCADIA, Calif. – Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, whose stable has had several instances of horses suffering sudden death in the last 16 months, released a statement on Friday, describing the loss of the horses as “personally troubling and of great sadness to me.”

In the statement, Baffert said that he was working with “everyone, including the California Horse Racing Board, my veterinarians and staff at the track to find the causes of the unexplained deaths.”

Baffert has had at least two horses die of sudden death in the last five months. In November 2011, Baffert lost Irrefutable when the 5-year-old collapsed and died after finishing second in the Vernon Underwood Stakes at Hollywood Park.

Overall, at least seven instances of sudden death have occurred in Thoroughbreds at Southern California tracks since late November. The leading causes have been cardiac failure, respiratory issues, and vascular failure. Racing board chairman David Israel said on Thursday that the cases of sudden death are being investigated.

Wednesday, at a racing board committee meeting, Dr. Rick Arthur, California equine medical director, said that 19 sudden deaths of all breeds of racehorses were reported through the state in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011. The number for the current fiscal year was 17 through Tuesday, Arthur said.

Friday, Arthur said that Baffert, his staff and veterinarians “have been fully cooperative at all times” when dealing with the cases of sudden death.

In his statement, Baffert said he hoped the research by the racing board and its pathologists “will discover information helpful to understanding the reasons that I, and many of my colleagues, have had horses suffer this unfortunate fate.”