Bob Baffert, trainer of Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, stands near the track at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, April 28, 2021.
Bryan Woolston | Reuters
A horse of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert was euthanized at Pimlico Race Course on the undercard of Saturday’s Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, dealing another black eye to the beleaguered sport.
Havnameltdown, a 4-5 favorite in the $200,000 Grade IIII Chick Lang Stakes, broke down and threw jockey Luis Saez at the top of the stretch.
“We are just devastated,” Baffert said in a statement. This is a shock to everyone at our barn who love and care for these horses every day.”
Breaking out of inside stall, Havnameltdown was bumped by the No. 2 horse and eventual winner Ryvit, causing him to briefly veer toward the rail.
“Havnameltdown was obviously hit pretty hard coming out of the gate,” Baffert added. “We don’t know if that contributed to the injury, but we will be fully transparent with those reviewing this terrible accident. Right now, our thoughts are with Luis Saez and we are hopeful he will be okay.”
Hanvameltdown’s injury was catastrophic and nothing could be done for him, according to on-call track veterinarian Scott Hay. The horse was put down while still on the track.
“Unfortunately Havnameltdown suffered an injury of his left front ankle that was of such an extent that they couldn’t do anything for him and he had to be humanely euthanized,” Hay told NBC Sports.
“The extent 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.”
The colt’s euthanization comes in the wake of a string of equine deaths leading up to the Kentucky Derby earlier this month at Churchill Downs.
Eight horses died in a little more than a week at the famed Louisville course, raising concerns about the sport’s treatment of its animals.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.