Two horse deaths at Preakness raise ire of activists, concerns about treatment
Two horses died racing in the Preakness undercard, shattering the day’s festivities in what activists call an all-too-common part of thoroughbred racing.
Nine-year-old Homeboykris won the first Preakness contest, then collapsed and died after having his photo taken in the winner’s circle, with officials saying they believe he suffered from cardiovascular disease.
Four-year-old Pram-edya was then euthanized on the track at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md., after breaking her left-front cannon bone coming out of the final turn.
The jockey, Daniel Centeno, broke his collarbone in the spill.
“I call it wholesale carnage,” said Patrick Battuello, an Albany animalrights activist who tracks horse-racing deaths. “This is just inherent in the industry. They could take measures that would help to mitigate the killing but they could never do away with it.”
Battuello identified 935 racehorse deaths last year and 969 in 2014 — but he expects the actual number to be closer to 2,000 due to some states not reporting racehorse fatalities.
The Jockey Club, a breed registry for thoroughbred horses, has reported lower fatality numbers from racetracks that voluntarily published their statistics, saying in a March report that 484 horses died at racetracks in 2015 and 583 died in 2014.
Most horses are euthanized after leg fractures that end their futures on the racetrack, said Battuello, attributing the injuries to how young the horses are raced and the widespread drugging of horses to boost their performance.
But the majority of the deaths occur far from the premier Triple Crown tracks like Pimlico, he said.
“Their long-term wellbeing is not in consideration. The goal is to keep them running so they can keep earning,” he said. “The goal here is to fill the cards, get as many horses on the track as possible.”
Pramedya’s owners, Gretchen and Roy Jackson, watched their horse die at the racetrack — 10 years after their Kentucky Derby-winning horse, Barbaro, shattered bones in his right hind leg after the gates opened in the Preakness race and was later put down.
Pramedya was taken to the New Bolton Center in Pennsylvania for a necropsy.
Homeboykris’ trainer Francis Campitelli told The Baltimore Sun the horse started to wobble and fell over about 100 yards from the winner’s circle.
“He went out a winner,” Campitelli told the newspaper. “He was a brave horse at his age. And this was a very tough race that he was in today.”