Horses run into trouble with bad weather


Horsemen at the track who can't race their animals aren't the only ones suffering from the icy winter weather.

On farms throughout the state there have been some devastating injuries to horses who can't cope with the ice and have fallen in their fields.

There have been reports of equine deaths from horses that have broken their legs; mares that have slipped on the ice and aborted their foals; and rescue efforts by veterinarians and even firemen who have been called in to save horses that have fallen on the ice and can't get up.

Russ Jacobson, a veterinarian in Harford County, said that for two days last week he did nothing but pull horses off the ice.

The most dramatic case occurred near Aberdeen when a thoroughbred mare stepped out of her shed, slipped and slid down a hill. She lay on the ice for 24 hours and couldn't get up. When Thursday's ice and snow storm rolled in, her frantic owner called the fire department for assistance.

In addition to 12 firemen, Bel Air farm owner Josh Pons and Jacobson assisted in the mare's rescue.

"We tied the horse's legs up like they do the calves in roping contests," Pons said. "And then by using a winch on the back of a fire truck, we hoisted her up the hill. If she had stayed out in the snowstorm, she probably would have frozen to death."

Jacobson said he is seeing more cases of hyperthermia than broken legs, although he knows of two horses that have died as a result of fractures.

"They can't get any traction and do the splits behind or if they move laterally and fall, they can fracture their pelvis," he said.

His advice to horse owners:

* Keep horses in the barn, even though high-strung thoroughbreds usually prefer moving around outside. "Unfortunately, horses are not designed to wear ice skates," Jacobson said. Use common sense about turning them out. "Just leave the horses in their stalls and cut back on their feed," he said. "They are going to have trouble standing on ice. There is no way they can punch through solid sheets of ice with their hoofs."

* If a horse gets down, use sand or stone dust or kitty litter to give them traction so they can get up. It took six men to get one yearling on its feet Friday, he said, and another one had to be pulled onto solid ground by a belly band attached to a tractor before it could get its footing.

* If a horse can't get up, cover it immediately to keep it warm. "It doesn't take long for the blood to leave a horse's muscles and for it to get cold," Jacobson said. "Those muscles need to move, so if the animal is down for an hour or more, try to roll it over. Also give it water and hay and call for help as soon as possible."

Jan Hawkins, a veterinarian at New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa., said the hospital has treated one horse for a fractured jaw and another for a broken leg from falls on the ice. "I heard of another horse that slipped in a field, hit its head and died," Hawkins said. "But that's anecdotal. In addition to muscular skeletal injuries, we are seeing colic cases because horses aren't drinking enough water."

Hawkins said the hospital hasn't been swamped with cases "because a lot of people can't get their horses off the farms to get them here. The veterinarians in the field are the ones dealing with most of these injuries."

Pons said his stallions, including Carnivalay and Allen's Prospect, at Country Life Farm haven't been out of their stalls since Jan. 5. "As you can imagine, they are a handful," Pons said. "But we just have to be patient. Horses at the tracks recovering from injuries stand in stalls for as long as a year and have no ill effect. So it's not unusual."

Pons said Country Life was scheduled to breed its first two mares on Friday, but the matings were canceled. "The mares were stuck on farms and the owners couldn't find transportation to get them here," he said.

Smith to be honored

Milton Smith, the first African-American trainer to win the Hambletonian, harness racing's premier event, will be among the honorees Thursday night at the fifth African Americans in Horse Racing dinner and awards ceremony.

Inez Chappell, the organization's president and founder, and Laurel/Pimlico operator Joe De Francis will be co-hosts for the event, which will be held at the Sports Palace at Pimlico Race Course.

Smith won the 1993 Hambletonian with $1 million earner American Winner, who also won the Yonkers Trot. The horse missed winning trotting's Triple Crown when he was beaten by Pine Chip in the Kentucky Futurity.

In addition to Smith, three harness trainer-drivers -- David Howard, Major Roane and Dennis Watson -- will be honored, as well as Harry Thompson Jr., a thoroughbred owner-trainer who won more than 100 races last year at Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Pa.

Chappell said the dinner is sold out and will be attended by Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke and Oliver Edwards, one of last year's award winners who is a leading trainer at Gulfstream Park.

Dixie date questionable

Exactly when will the Early Times Dixie Handicap be run this spring?

In advertisements for the Triple Turf Series, sponsored by Early Times Distillery Co., the $150,000 grass race is listed for May 21 (Preakness Day) at Pimlico.

But Lenny Hale, Laurel/Pimlico vice president of racing, said he plans to keep the race on May 20, its usual spot a day before the Preakness.

Why not run on Preakness Day and give the Early Times people more exposure?

"That's what we'd like to do, but there are a couple of problems," Hale said. "First, our grass course at Pimlico is right up against the infield fence. Suppose someone throws something over the fence, like they did at the Kentucky Derby one year, and hits a valuable horse? It seems too risky. Secondly, there is a lot of traffic going across the course leading to the infield on Preakness Day. If its rainy that week, that could create problems with the footing."

Hale said the possibility of adding an extra fence and security is being negotiated with Early Times. "But as of this date, I'm planning to write the race for Friday," he said. "If something is worked out, then it can always be moved."

Other Early Times Triple turf races are the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, May 6, the day before the Kentucky Derby, and the Early Times Manhattan on Belmont Stakes Day, June 11.

Added starter?

When the list of Triple Crown nominees was released last week, the 1993 Maryland juvenile champion, Run Alden, was missing from the lineup. Owner Hal C. B. Clagett was in Kenya on business and said he forgot the closing.

The original nomination fee is $600. Even though the colt won the Maryland Juvenile Championship at 1 1/16th miles, his connections aren't sure he wants a classic distance. But in case Run Alden proves he's Preakness-caliber this spring, there is a second closing on April 2 at a $6,000 fee.

After that, the fee increases considerably. The cost to supplement to the Preakness after April 2 is $100,000.


Amanda Tuttle said that Kalimera, the dam of recent Hoover Stakes winner Smart Alec, is expecting a foal this spring by 1991 Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Sheikh Albadou. Smart Alec is owned by Tuttle's parents. . . . Local owners with horses campaigning at Oaklawn Park with Dale Capuano have to drive to Delaware Park to catch the Arkansas simulcasts if they want to bet on their horses. Laurel/Pimlico spokesman Tim Capps said its possible Maryland tracks will pick up Oaklawn's signal. . . . The 26 horses in the Waverly-on-Chester dispersal at Timonium last weekend brought $130,000. The dispersal marked the breakup of a partnership formed by Larry Hoyle of Philadelphia and Penelope Keating of Centreville. Hoyle is out of the business. Keating, who developed the racing and breeding operation that produced stakes winners Hooliganism and Kelly's Class, hopes to regroup and form another stable.

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