A three-year-old colt was euthanized on the track at Pimlico after suffering a “non-operable” fetlock injury, just hours before the scheduled start of the Preakness Stakes.
Havnameltdown, trained by the formerly-suspended Bob Baffert, sustained the injury while running in the Chick Lang Stakes, the sixth race of the day. According to the Washington Post, the horse stumbled on the final turn and the jockey, Luis Saez, was thrown. Havnameltdown continued on the track but was visibly hurt, and was stopped on the homestretch to receive immediate medical attention.
A dark screen was put up around the horse to prevent the crowd from seeing what was going on, and Havnameltdown was put down after medical personnel determined he had a “non-operable left fore fetlock injury.” According to the Post, the music at the track continued to play during the ordeal, but those in attendance had no idea a horse was being euthanized behind the screen.
“We never had an issue with him,” Baffert said of Havnameltdown, via the Post. “We are so careful with all these horses, and it still happens. It is something that is very disheartening. I feel so bad for that horse, and I just hope that Luis is okay.”
Saez was taken via ambulance to a nearby hospital, reportedly with a leg injury. The specifics of his injury and his condition are not yet known.
The Preakness is Baffert’s return to the Triple Crown. He’s spent the last two years suspended from racing after his horse Media Spirit won the 2021 Kentucky Derby and then failed two drug tests. Baffert is the trainer of National Treasure, who is running in the Preakness on Saturday evening.
The death of Havnameltdown is just the latest in a string of disturbing deaths in horse racing over the last month. Seven horses died at Churchill Downs in the lead-up to the Kentucky Derby, and one more died a week later. The last time multiple race horse deaths made news was 2019, when 37 horses died at Santa Anita over the course of the year.