A horse trained by controversial Bob Baffert has died after being euthanized on the track during the Preakness undercard on Saturday, putting the sport of racing under heavy scrutiny again.
Hours before the Triple Crown rematch in Baltimore, Maryland, the Havnameltdown favorite buckled on his left front leg and threw jockey Luis Saez on his back, before racing around the final corner in some distress.
The three-year-old colt was examined by chief veterinarian Dr Dionne Benson and others, who determined the injury was inoperable and decided the horse should be put down, according to a statement from 1ST Racing, which owns and operates the track. .
In a statement to DailyMail.com, PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo slammed organizers for allowing the beleaguered Baffert to follow the trail, following his previous one-year ban for repeated drug violations.
“Pimlico should have followed Churchill Downs’ lead and kicked Bob Baffert off the track,” she said. “Baffert has been embroiled in drug scandals, the deaths of seven horses that collapsed in California and at least 75 horses in his care have died.
Havnameltdown (left) was euthanized on the track after suffering a crash during a race at Pimlico
Screens are strung around the injured horse as he is dropped onto the track on Saturday
PETA slammed organizers for allowing Bob Baffert (pictured) to enter horses in the race
“Havnameltdown’s tragic death is the latest in a long line of deaths. The racing industry must kick out the bad guys or it will have blood on its hands and blood on its tracks.
Jockey Saez, meanwhile, was conscious and taken to Sinai Hospital for evaluation, complaining of leg pain, track officials said. He was treated by medical personnel on the track for several minutes before being put on a stretcher and into an ambulance.
Havnameltdown’s death comes on another major race day, following the Kentucky Derby eclipsed by eight deaths at Churchill Downs over a 10-day period.
The favorite at 4-5 for the $200,000 dirt run and escaping the No.1 inside post, Havnameltdown was chased out of the gate by No.2 Ryvit and broke a slow step but kept running in the six-stadium race.
Fans in the crowd at Pimlico Racecourse gasped as the horse stumbled before the final bend and threw Saez.
In an incongruous scene, at the same time Saez and Havnameltdown were being watched, 2Pac’s “California Love” continued to blare from field speakers set up right next to where it happened.
Jockey Luis Saez was taken on a stretcher but was conscious as he made his way to hospital
The death in Preakness on Saturday is the ninth in recent weeks as controversy heats up
Meanwhile, on the home stretch of Pimlico, the horse was subdued by track staff and then driven behind black barriers.
The music was stopped during the following race.
Baffert has horses racing the Preakness weekend for the first time in two years after returning from a suspension stemming from 2021 Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit’s failed drug test.
He has been unable to enter horses in the Derby for the past two years as part of a decision by Churchill Downs. He couldn’t have one in the 2022 Preakness or Belmont because of a 90-day ban in Kentucky that Maryland and New York enforced.
One of his horses, Arabian Lion, won an earlier race. Baffert is also set to saddle the national treasure in the Preakness.
What was supposed to be a day of celebration and celebration was marred by the death of the horse
Glamorous racegoers enjoy their afternoon at Pimlico Racetrack in Baltimore, Maryland
Saez, a Panamanian who turned 31 on Friday, was originally slated to pilot top contender First Mission in the Preakness. But this horse was scratched on the advice of vets because of a problem with his rear left ankle.
In the 2019 Kentucky Derby, Saez first crossed the line with Maximum Security, but the stewards overturned the win and dropped the colt to 17th for getting in the way of several horses. Saez was later suspended, accused of causing the interference.
Earlier this year he rode Kentucky Derby champion Mage for a runner-up finish at the Florida Derby. At Churchill Downs two weeks ago, Saez’s horse Tapit Trice finished seventh in the Derby.
Havnameltdown, owned by Michael Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, had won four of its six career starts prior to this run. He had recently finished second in the Saudi Derby in February.