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Preakness 2016:

Deaths of two horses cast a pall over Pimlico

Word of horse deaths spread through Pimlico on cell phones.

The deaths of two horses in early races Saturday at Pimlico Race Course set a somber tone to Preakness Day — at least for those who knew about it.

"It's deflating," said Sal Sinatra, president of the Maryland Jockey Club. "You try to figure it out, go through so many steps to make sure the horses are OK. … Things do happen."

Maryland-bred Homeboykris, a 9-year-old gelding who ran in the 2010 Kentucky Derby, collapsed after winning the first race on a dreary day and having his picture taken in the winner's circle.

Homeboykris had gone "probably 100 yards" before his legs started to wobble and the horse fell, trainer Francis Campitelli said. Track officials said they believe he suffered cardiovascular collapse.

His carcass was sent to New Bolton Center Hospital in Pennsylvania for a necropsy.

In the fourth race, Pramedya, a 4-year-old filly, collapsed on the turf during the final turn with a fracture in the left front leg. She was euthanized on the track.

Jockey Daniel Centeno, who was thrown to the turf, fractured his right clavicle and was taken to Sinai Hospital.

Pramedya was owned by Roy and Gretchen Jackson. They also owned Barbaro, the 2006 Kentucky Derby champion who shattered his leg in the Preakness and was eventually euthanized.

Pramedya broke through the starting gates early, just as Barbaro did a decade ago in the Preakness.

The Jacksons, four-decade veterans of the sport, bred the filly at Lael Farm in Chester County, Pa.

"We haven't fully digested the whole thing," Roy Jackson said shortly after Pramedya's death. "But life goes on."

Fatality rates vary by racetrack, according to Rick Arthur, equine director at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and the California Horse Racing Board. But the range is typically between one in 500 and one in 1,000 starts.

Sinatra said the two deaths were the first of Pimlico's spring meet, which began May 12.

Thirty-one horses died of injuries at Pimlico between 2009 and 2015, according to the Equine Injury Database. Twenty-four of them were age 4 or older, like Homeboykris and Pramedya.

There hadn't been a horse fatality at Pimlico on Preakness day since 2007 — the year after Barbaro's injury — when 4-year-old Mending Fences broke his right ankle and was euthanized.

"It's just like rolling snake eyes back to back," Arthur said. "It's just a probability issue. It's hard to make any determination from anything like that."

Campitelli, who grew up near Pimlico, said Homeboykris was in "really good health" for a 9-year-old, with no leg problems. Saturday's race was his fourth of the year, and second win.

After Pramedya's fall, Sinatra had the turf course inspected. Track officials told him it was fine.

No announcement was made about either death in the grandstand, those in attendance said. The news spread as spectators read their cellphones.

Joe McLaughlin, 74, called it "the only downside in racing."

"It's going to happen from time to time," he said from the grandstand. "And it's always a sad thing when it does."

The Jacksons remained at the track to watch their horses run in later races. Roy Jackson said Pramedya's death would not dampen their love for racing.

In a telephone interview, Campitelli sounded mournful.

Stirrup Trouble LLC, Homeboykris' Florida-based owner, claimed him after seeing the 2009 Grade I Champagne Stakes champion on TVG, a network dedicated to horse racing.

She fell hard for the horse, Campitelli said, and wanted to see that he had a "good home, because he deserves it."

Campitelli said he would remain at Pimlico to watch the simulcasts of some Florida races, but no longer than he had to.

"Probably just get out of here as quick as I can," he said.

Baltimore Sun reporters Childs Walker, Jake Lourim, Mark Selig and Colin Campbell contributed to this article.

jshaffer@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jonas_shaffer

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