Two horse deaths at Preakness raise ire of ac­tivists, con­cerns about treat­ment

Boston Herald - - NEWS - By BRIAN DOWL­ING

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.”

AP PHO­TOS

‘WHOLE­SALE CAR­NAGE’: Horses leave the gate, above, to be­gin the first horse race ahead of the 141st Preakness Stakes at Pim­lico yes­ter­day. Home­boykris, be­low, is one of two horses who died yes­ter­day.

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