BALTIMORE (AP) – A horse trained by Bob Baffert National Treasure, a Hall of Famer’s 3-year-old filly, won the Preakness Stakes several hours earlier after suffering a leg injury on the track at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday..
On the same dirt course where he ran the second leg of the Triple Crown, favorite Havnamltdown surged forward and dropped jockey Louis Saz on his back in the sixth race of the day, then continued to run with some anxiety in the final lap.
Havenamlt Down was examined by Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Dion Benson and others, who determined that the injury to his left front leg was inoperable, so the horse should be put down, according to a statement released by track owner and operator 1/ST Racing.
Saez was conscious and taken to Sinai Hospital for evaluation, track officials said. He was attended to by paramedics on the track for several minutes before being taken on a stretcher and into an ambulance.
Havnameltdown’s death comes on another big race day after the Kentucky Derby was overshadowed by seven deaths. Over the course of 10 days at Churchill Downs.
“It’s a very bad feeling. And we are sorry. We are sorry when these things happen. There’s nothing worse than coming back and the stall is empty,” Baffert said. “He’s a good horse. He couldn’t be doing any better. it hurts. I am in shock.
Earlier in the day, Baffert’s voice cracked as he spoke of the “feeling of the game” after Derby champion Madge saw off National Treasure Blazing Sevens by a head to end his Triple Crown bid. Magee was the third Saturday.
The National Heritage gave Baffert his eighth victory in the Preakness and 17th win overall in the Triple Crown, another milestone.
Havnameltdown was the 4-5 favorite in the $200,000 dirt race. He broke inside the No. 1 post and faced Rivit at No. 2 from the gate but continued to run in the 6-furlong race. The eventual winner, Havnamlttown and Ryvit, pulled away from the front of the pack in the second lap.
The crowd at Pimlico Race Course gasped when the horse stumbled before the final turn and threw him into mourning. While the jockey was being checked by medics as he sat on dirt, the horse was controlled by track staff on the homestretch, then led behind some black barriers.
In a mismatched scene, 2Pac’s “California Love” continued to blare from field speakers set up around the scene.
“It’s very sad,” said Revit jockey Tyler Gafalio. “We hope Louis is okay. We were kind of head over heels, and he just disappeared. I looked back and saw Lewis coming out of the side.
I’m ashamed He pointed out that the horse was “obviously hit hard when he got out of the gate.”
“We don’t know if this contributed to the damage, but we will be completely transparent with those assessing this terrible accident,” he tweeted.
Baffert had horses running in the Preakness weekend for the first time in two years In the year 2021 Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit after returning from suspension for failed drug test. As part of Churchill Downs’ decision, he has been unable to enter a horse in the Derby for the past two years. And the 2022 Preakness or Belmont may not have any because of Kentucky’s 90-day ban imposed by Maryland and New York.
Another one of his riders, Arabian Lion, won an earlier race on Saturday.
On Friday, Panamanian Saez, who turned 31, had to ride first-timers in the Preakness. But that horse was scratched on vets advice due to a problem with his left hind ankle.
In the 2019 Kentucky Derby, Saez rode top safety on the line at first, but stewards overturned the win and bumped the path of several horses, dropping the colt to 17th. Saez was then accused of interfering.
He was aboard Kentucky Derby champion Magee when he finished first in the Florida Derby earlier this year. Saez’s horse Tapit Tris finished seventh in the Derby two weeks ago at Churchill Downs.
Owned by Michael Pegram, Carl Watson and Paul Wightman, Havnameltdown had won four of his six career starts prior to this race. Most recently, he finished second in the Saudi Derby in February.
“We had no problem with him,” Baffert said. “We’re very careful with all these horses, and it still happens. It’s disappointing. I feel really bad for that horse. And I hope Lewis is OK.
AP National Writer Howard Fendrich and AP Sports Writer Noah Trister contributed.