Horse trained by Bob Baffert was euthanized after suffering a race injury at the track


BALTIMORE (AP) — A horse coached by Bob Baffert was euthanized on the track after injuring his leg during a race the preakness Undercard Saturday and his deposed jockey’s hospitalization.

Hours before the second stage of the Triple Crown, the favorite Havnameltdown gave way up front, knocking jockey Luis Saez off his back in the sixth race and continuing to run around the last corner in some distress.

The 3-year-old colt was groomed by chief veterinarian Dr. Dionne Benson and others, who determined the injury to his left front leg was inoperable and decided to euthanize the horse, according to a statement from 1/ST Racing, which owns and operates the track.

Saez was conscious and was taken to Sinai Hospital for evaluation. He complained of leg pain, track officials said. He was tended to by medical staff on the route for several minutes before being placed on a stretcher and into an ambulance.

Havnameltdown’s death comes on another major racing day after the The Kentucky Derby is overshadowed by seven fatalities at Churchill Downs over a period of 10 days.

“It’s the worst feeling. And we mourn. We mourn when something like this happens. “There’s nothing worse than coming back and the booth is empty,” Baffert said. “He’s a beautiful horse. He couldn’t have been better off. It’s disgusting. I’m in shock.”

Havnameltdown was the 4-5 favorite for the $200,000 dirt race and broke out of the #1 inside post. Havnameltdown and Ryvit, the eventual race winner, were leading the field by turn two.

Fans in the crowd at Pimlico Race Course gasped as the horse stumbled before the last corner and threw Saez. In an inopportune scene, while Saez and Havnameltdown were being watched, 2Pac’s “California Love” continued to blare out of infield speakers placed directly near the action.

Meanwhile, on the Pimlico home straight, the horse was brought under control by circuit staff and then led behind some black barriers.

“Very unfortunate,” said Tyler Gaffalione, Ryvit’s jockey. “Hopefully Luis is doing well. We were, so to speak, in advance and he just disappeared. I looked back and saw Luis coming off the side.”

baffert pointed out that his horse “obviously got hit pretty hard coming out of the gate.”

“We don’t know if this contributed to the injury but we will be fully transparent with those reviewing this horrific accident,” he wrote on Twitter.

Baffert runs horses at 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 has not been able to enter horses in the Derby for the past two years due to a decision by Churchill Downs. He couldn’t have one at Preakness or Belmont 2022 due to a 90-day suspension in Kentucky respected by Maryland and New York.

One of his horses, Arabian Lion, won a previous race. Baffert will also saddle the National Treasure at Preakness.

Saez, a Panamanian who turned 31 on Friday, was originally scheduled to ride front-runner First Mission in the Preakness. But This horse was scratched on the advice of vets because of a problem with his left hind ankle.

At the 2019 Kentucky Derby, Saez rode Maximum Security first across the finish line, but the stewards rescinded the win and relegated the colt to 17th place after blocking the path of several horses. Saez was subsequently suspended and charged with causing the disruption.

Earlier in the year he was aboard Kentucky Derby champion Mage and finished second in the Florida Derby. Two weeks ago at Churchill Downs, 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. Most recently, he finished second at the Saudi Derby in February.

“We never had a problem with him,” Baffert said. “We’re so careful with all these horses and it’s still happening OK.”

AP national journalist Howard Fendrich and AP sportswriter Noah Trister contributed.

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