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Baffert-trained horse killed at Pimlico; jockey to the hospital


Associated PressMay 20, 2023, 2:07 PM ET2 minute reading

BALTIMORE – A horse trained by Bob Baffert was euthanized on the track after he went down with an injury and dislodged his jockey during a race on the Preakness undercard Saturday.

Hours before the second leg of the Triple Crown, favorite Havnameltdown bucked forward and threw jockey Luis Saez off his back during the sixth race and proceeded to run around the final turn in some distress.

The 3-year-old colt was examined by senior veterinarian dr. Dionne Benson and others, who determined the injury was inoperable and decided the horse should be euthanized, according to a statement from 1ST Racing, which owns and operates the track.

Saez was conscious and taken to a hospital for evaluation, complaining of leg pain, the track announced. He was attended to by medical staff on the field for several minutes before being placed on a stretcher and into an ambulance.

The death comes in the wake of the Kentucky Derby being overshadowed by the deaths of seven horses at Churchill Downs over the course of 10 days.

Havnameltdown, the 4-5 favorite and breaking from the inside No. 1 post, was bumped out of the gate by No. 2 Ryvit and broke a step slowly.

Fans in the crowd at Pimlico Race Course gasped as the horse tripped before the final turn, throwing Saez. The horse was brought under control on the home stretch of Pimlico by track staff, then led behind some black barriers.

In an incongruous scene, while Saez and the Havnameltdown were being watched, 2Pac’s “California Love” blared from infield speakers set up right near where the incident happened. The music was stopped during the next race.

Baffert has horses running on the Preakness weekend for the first time in two years after returning from a suspension stemming from 2021 Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit’s failed drug test. He was unable to enter horses in the Derby either of the last two years as part of a decision by Churchill Downs. He could not have anyone in the 2022 Preakness or Belmont because of a 90-day ban in Kentucky respected by Maryland and New York.

One of his horses, Arabian Lion, won a previous race. Baffert is also set to saddle National Treasure in the Preakness.

Saez, who is from Panama and turned 31 on Friday, was originally slated to ride top contender First Mission in the Preakness. But that horse was scratched on veterinary advice due to a problem with his left hind ankle.

At the 2019 Kentucky Derby, Saez raced Maximum Security over the line first, but stewards revoked the win and dropped the colt to 17th place for obstructing the paths of several horses. Saez was charged with causing the interference and suspended.

Earlier this year, he aboard Kentucky Derby champion Mage to a runner-up finish at the Florida Derby. At Churchill Downs two weeks ago, Saez’s horse, Tapit Trice, finished seventh in the Derby.

Havnameltdown, owned by Michael Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, had won four of his six career starts prior to this race. He was most recently second in the Saudi Derby in February.

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