Five-year-old mare Follow the Petals collapsed and died of an apparent heart attack during the second race on Sunday’s card at Laurel Park.
Follow the Petals had taken the lead when she went down in the stretch of the $16,000 claiming race. The start was her seventh of 2019 and 35th of a busy three-year career that included eight victories and more than $200,000 in earnings, according to Equibase.com.
Jockey Frankie Pennington was unharmed, a track spokesman said. A necropsy will determine the official cause of death.
Follow the Petals was at minimum the 12th horse to die on Maryland tracks this year, according to the Maryland Racing Commission. Nine horses died during races and two during training between Jan. 1 and the close of the Pimlico meet in late May. Racing resumed at Laurel Park on May 31.
“PETA is watching Maryland racing very closely, and it’s imperative that Maryland breeders and trainers embrace the rules that Santa Anita Park put in place to protect horses,” said Kathy Guillermo, vice president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, in a statement. “Dead horses will no longer be ignored by the public.”
Horse safety has been the dominant issue in thoroughbred racing this year as the industry copes with public and political outcry over the spate of 29 deaths at Santa Anita Park since late December. Santa Anita is owned by the Stronach Group, which also owns Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course and has called for sweeping reforms to medication rules in response to the deaths.