Ferris Allen was there the day a horse his owner named Colonel Crawford was born at Hickory Ridge Farm in Tennessee. The veteran trainer was also there when the 4-year-old gelding was euthanized Thursday at Pimlico, after breaking his right leg on the backstretch of the sixth race.
“He lost his rider at the head of the stretch. He hurt himself at the head of the stretch,” Allen said Friday.
While Allen said he has lost other horses among the “almost 30,000” he has saddled in his career, losing Colonel Crawford was different.
“It’s very personal to me because I started with this family when I bought Colonel Crawford’s grandmother in foal for Hickory Ridge Farm 20-something years ago,” Allen said. “Big Patti, Colonel Crawford’s dam, raced for me and won a number of races and I was there when Colonel Crawford was foaled and was with him for the four years he was alive. I’ve been connected to that farm for almost 30 years.”
Allen said while horses suffering catastrophic injuries are an unfortunate part of the sport, many are still impacted when a horse has to be euthanized. It marked the second time in the past three years that a horse had to be euthanized during Preakness week at Pimlico.
In 2016, a 9-year-old gelding who had run in the 2010 Kentucky Derby was euthanized shortly after suffering a heart attack. Homeboykris had won the first race on Preakness Day when he collapsed after taking a picture in the winner’s circle. In the fourth race that day, 4-year-old filly Pramedya collapsed during the final turn after fracturing her left leg.
“If you choose to box for a living, sometimes you’re going to take a blow to the head,” Allen said. “And if you choose to race horses, sometimes one of them is going to get hurt. The most important thing that I think that gets missed in this is that every time a horse like this gets hurt, of course there’s the people that own it suffer because they’re attached to the horse, but there are also the people that are with the horse every day. That means the grooms, the exercise rider. It’s a very gloomy place in my barn today.”
Allen said there had been no signs of stress or injury before Thursday’s race. In fact, Colonel Crawford had run well of a late.
“He had a win, a third and a fourth in his last three starts and had not been beaten by more than two lengths, he had been running very successfully,” Allen said.