Horse racing, already under intense scrutiny over horse deaths, suffered yet another very public display of the sport’s troubling side.
New York Thunder was far in front toward winning the Grade 1 $500,000 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial Stakes at Saratoga when he fell in the homestretch, suffering a fracture of the left front fetlock, and subsequently was euthanized.
It was the second death of the day at Saratoga as Nobel, the favorite in an allowance race at the upstate New York track, suffered a life-ending injury to his left front leg while galloping out after finishing fifth in an allowance race.
There have been 12 fatalities at Saratoga since racing began July 13.
New York Thunder was a 3-year-old who was undefeated in four starts. The scene was reminiscent of the Test Stakes three weeks ago, when Maple Leaf Mel, also undefeated, fell in a gruesome scene just yards from the finish line.
At Del Mar, Pastor T, a 2-year-old homebred for WinStar Farm and trained by Bob Baffert, suffered a life-ending injury to his right front leg during morning training. The colt, sired by Into Mischief, considered one of the top stallions in the world, won his only start Aug. 12 by 4¼ lengths. It was the fourth fatality at Del Mar this season, although one was an accident involving a loose horse and another the result of a failed surgery.
The spike in fatalities at Saratoga has caught the interest of not only animal rights activists but also those that manage the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority. After the nationally televised breakdown of Maple Leaf Mel on Aug. 5, scrutiny on Saratoga was elevated. Two days after the death, asked by The Times if there was an investigation, a HISA spokesperson said it was up to the tracks to investigate. However, on Saturday, HISA disclosed that it started an investigation into the breakdowns at the track.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.