A horse was euthanized on the track at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday after the Chick Lang Stakes ahead of the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore.
Havnameltdown, who is trained by Bob Baffert, was racing strong toward the front of the pack when he stumbled around a turn. Jockey Luis Saez fell off and tumbled to the ground. According to a statement from 1/ST Racing, Saez was “stable and conscious” after the fall and was taken to Sinai Hospital for further evaluation.
Havnameltdown continued trotting into the straight before being led to the side for evaluation by a veterinarian team led by Dr. Dionne Benson.
Scott Hay, the on-call veterinarian for the American Association of Equine Practitioners, shared the news of the horse’s death.
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“Unfortunately, Havnameltdown went bad at the top of the stretch, you saw it around the turn and he sustained a really severe injury of his left front ankle,” he said. “It was to such an extent that it was basically impossible to transport him and they had to euthanize him humanely on the grounds immediately.”.
Said Baffert: “We never had an issue with him. We are so careful with all these horses, and it still happens. It is something that is disheartening. … There is nothing worse than coming back and the stall is empty. He is a nice horse. He could not have been doing any better. It’s sickening. I am in shock.”.
Baffert later became emotional and called it “a tough day” while celebrating another one of his horses, National Treasure, winning Preakness Stakes.
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On Friday, First Mission was scratched from the Preakness, the second leg of the Triple Crown, because of concern about a left hind ankle. This leaves seven horses in the race, the smallest field since 1986. Baffert would break the Preakness record with eight victories if National Treasure wins.
Baffert missed the 2022 Preakness because he was suspended when Medina Spirit failed a drug test after winning that year’s Kentucky Derby. He was not present at the Kentucky Derby in May, his second year missing the race at Churchill Downs.
Havnameltdown’s death comes two weeks after seven horses died in the events leading up to and the day of the Kentucky Derby.
Favorite Forte was one of five horses scratched for the Kentucky Derby.
Animal rights groups spoke out Saturday after the death of Havnameltdown. The Humane Society called for “sweeping reforms” in horse racing. PETA said Pimlico should have banned Baffert from the track and the sport needs to “kick out the bad guys.”.