Baffert-trained horse euthanized, jockey hospitalized after Preakness Day injury

·3-min read
Bob Baffert trained Havnameltdown is taken off the track after being euthanized during a race ahead of the 148th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico
Bob Baffert trained Havnameltdown is taken off the track after being euthanized during a race ahead of the 148th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico

Bob Baffert-trained Havnameltdown was euthanized on the track after suffering a left front leg injury and unseating jockey Luis Saez in a race on the Preakness Stakes undercard at Pimlico on Saturday.

Saez was taken to hospital complaining of lower leg pain, the Baltimore Sun reported.

The breakdown before the second jewel in US flat racing's Triple Crown at the Baltimore track comes after the Kentucky Derby was clouded by a spate of horse deaths in the build up to the first Triple Crown race at Churchill Downs earlier this month.

Havnameltdown buckled forward coming around the final turn on the inside, throwing Saez and continuing to hobble on until he was caught.

A statement from 1/ST Racing, which owns Pimlico Race Course, said that a team of veterinarians led by Dr. Dionne Benson "observed a non-operable left fore fetlock injury" and opted to euthanize the horse.

It's the first time since 2016 that a horse has been euthanized at Pimlico on Preakness Day.

"We are just devastated," Baffert said in a statement. "This is a shock to everyone at our barn who love and care for these horses every day.

"Havnameltdown was obviously hit pretty hard coming out of the gate. We don't know if that contributed to the injury, but we will be fully transparent with those reviewing this terrible accident.

"Right now, our thoughts are with Luis Saez and we are hopeful he will be okay."

Kitty Block, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, said the death of Havnameltdown in the wake of eight deaths in a matter of weeks at Churchill Downs "underscores the urgent need for sweeping reforms in the horse racing industry."

Concerns over horse safety have muted Kentucky Derby-winner Mage's bid for the second leg of the Triple Crown.

Mage, trained by Gustavo Delgado and ridden by jockey Javier Castellano -- both from Venezuela -- out-dueled Two Phil's down the stretch to become the fourth horse to win the Kentucky Derby off just three prior starts.

- Fresh challengers --

Now he'll try to become the 37th horse to win both the Derby and the Preakness. Only 13 of the previous 36 have gone on to win the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes and complete the coveted treble.

Mage -- who will be racing with stitches over one eye after a mishap in his stall -- will be up against a bevy of fresh challengers as the only Kentucky Derby runner in the field, which was reduced from eight to seven on Friday when Brad Cox-trained First Mission was scratched on the advice of veterinarians with a left hind leg issue.

First Mission had been made the early second favorite behind Mage after drawing the outside post.

His exit left the Baffert-trained National Treasure as the top challenger to Mage. National Treasure didn't run the Derby because Baffert is serving a two-year suspension from Churchill Downs in the wake of a positive drug test for Medina Spirit in 2021.

Baffert has saddled seven Preakness winners, and a victory would break a tie with 19th-century trainer Robert Wyndham Walden for most Preakness victories by a trainer.