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Preakness Stakes 2023: Havnameltdown euthanized on track, jockey in hospital after incident in undercard race


On the day of the 148th Preakness Stakes, jockey Luis Saez fell off the horse he was riding and had to be taken to a Baltimore-area hospital during undercard racing at Pimlico Race Course. The horse, Havnameltdown, sustained an injury to his left foreleg and was euthanized on the track.

Havnameltdown got off to a slow start in the sixth race on the card as he struggled to get clear out of the gate for the Chick Lang Stakes. He pushed his way to the front and competed for the lead when Saez was thrown from his horse mid-turn and hit the ground hard, rolling several times on the ground. Havnameltdown continued briefly without the jockey before pulling up.

Havnameltdown, trained by Bob Baffert, closed as favorite to win the race at 4/5 odds. He finished second in the Saudi Derby in his last start before Pimlico. The Chick Lang Stakes, a six-furlong race for 3-year-olds with a total purse of $200,000, was won by Ryvit.

Saez was visibly conscious on the field and, according to the NBC Sports broadcast, was complaining of leg pain when he was carried to an ambulance and taken to the hospital. A later update on the broadcast said Saez was alert and talking at the hospital in stable condition. His X-rays were clean and his agent told NBC Sports that Saez is feeling good and wants to get back in the saddle as soon as tomorrow.

“[Havnameltdown’s injury] was to such an extent that they could do nothing for him. He had to be euthanized humanely,” said Dr. Scott Hay, the AAEP veterinarian on call, during the NBC broadcast.

Several vets are on site to get to the horses as quickly as possible in the event of an injury or incident on the track. Havnameltdown was not taken to the barn for further examination and treatment.

“The length of the injury was severe enough that it was probably in the horse’s best interest to just euthanize at that point rather than try to go through the process of loading him onto an ambulance,” explained Hay.

The vet said that from what he had seen so far, he thought the track seemed safe enough to continue running today.

Saez, a 31-year-old native of Panama, finished first while riding Maximum Security at the 2019 Kentucky Derby. However, that horse was eventually disqualified for interference and Country House was awarded the win instead. The incident comes two weeks after the Kentucky Derby where eight horses died at Churchill Downs in the run-up to the Run for the Roses.

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