The Miss Preakness Stakes featured a record-breaking run by Covfefe, but the race and Black-Eyed Susan Day was marred by the death of 3-year-old filly Congrats Gal, who died soon after pulling up and finishing last in the nine-horse field.
The death, which was confirmed in a statement from The Stronach Group, was the first on Preakness weekend since two horses died on Preakness day in 2016. A cause has not yet been determined, and The Stronach Group said a full necropsy will be performed to try to determine the cause of death.
“Congrats Gal suffered sudden death after the eighth race today,” the statement read. “The incident occurred after the wire. Commission veterinarians attended to the horse immediately. Our thoughts go out to all of the owners, trainers and connections of Congrats Gal.”
Kathy Guillermo, senior vice president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, also issued a statement after the death of Congrats Gal.
“The sickening collapse and sudden death of Congrats Gal at Pimlico today are proof that the Maryland racing industry has not done enough to protect horses,” the statement said. “PETA will be calling for a formal investigation, including a necropsy and blood toxicology panel, and for the release of all medication and veterinary records. We will be contacting the district attorney's office, as we did in California, where the D.A. has appointed a task force to investigate training and veterinary practices.”
This already has been a year of safety-related controversy in the racing industry. Santa Anita Park shut down temporarily during a three-month period in which 23 horses died. The number was so unusually large that the string of fatalities prompted a backlash that reached Congress and prompted California senator Dianne Feinstein to call for a suspension of racing until the causes of all 23 deaths were determined.
Santa Anita already had suspended racing for 21 days to examine whether track conditions were a factor in the rash of fatalities. The cause has yet to be determined.
Santa Anita is owned by The Stronach Group, which also owns Pimlico Race Course and Laurel Park.
“The Stronach Group is committed to the welfare and safety of horses above all and we are saddened by what happened today,’’ Friday’s statement continued.
On Preakness day 2016, Maryland-bred Homeboykris, a 9-year-old gelding who ran in the 2010 Kentucky Derby, collapsed and died of a heart attack after winning the first race. 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.