Despite the rain, spirits were high at Pimlico on Black-Eyed Susan Day. (Ulysses Muñoz / Baltimore Sun)
A year after two horses died under different circumstances after going down at Pimlico on Preakness Day, procedures are in place to help ensure that kind of tragedy won't be repeated during the races leading up to the 142nd running of the event — or in the featured race itself.
A spokesman for the Maryland Jockey Club said Friday that there was little to prevent what happened a year ago, but declined to talk about Saturday's races.
"One horse had a heart attack and the other got its heels clipped and broke his leg," the spokesman said.
Maryland-bred Homeboykris, a 9-year-old gelding who ran in the 2010 Kentucky Derby, collapsed after winning the first race and having his picture taken in the winner's circle. A necropsy performed by the Maryland Department of Agriculture in Frederick showed that the horse suffered a heart attack.
The report examining the horse's death also showed he was running with an elevated level of the anti-inflammatory drug dexamethasone in his blood, but it was determined that it had nothing to do with the heart attack.
In the fourth race last year, a 4-year-old filly named Pramedya collapsed on the turn during the final turn with a fractured left front leg.
The filly, who was euthanized at the track, was owned by Roy and Gretchen Jackson, the couple who owned 2006 Kentucky Derby champion Barbaro, who shattered his leg in that year's Preakness and was eventually euthanized.
The two deaths were among three dozen that occurred on Maryland tracks in 2016, according to a post on horseracingwrongs.com, which received its information through a Maryland Public Information Act request to the Maryland Racing Commission. There have been four deaths so far this year, according to a commission official.
Arnaud Delacour, the trainer for Pramedya, said in an interview earlier this week that "we need to move on, but we to do everything we can to avoid that kind of tragedy. We are even more vigilant and careful about what's going on with our horses, just to make sure everything is thorough."
Delacour, who has trained horses for two decades, said it was the second time one of his horses had to be destroyed after being injured. Delacour, who will have a 7-year-old gelding, A.P. Indian, running in the Maryland Sprint Handicap on Saturday, said last year's tragedy was particularly difficult for the Jacksons.
"To have the same happen to the filly as well, breaking from the gate, was like a déjà vu kind of thing, which was very hard for them to handle, I supposed," Delacour said.
Neither the Jacksons nor Francis Campitelli, the trainer for Homeboykris, could be reached for comment.
The Maryland Jockey Club handed out a list of procedures that will be in place for Saturday's race, including the fact that no veterinarians administering salix is allowed in any of the barns housing the horses after 6:15 p.m. Friday "unless they have approval from the state veterinarian and the stewards or it is a documented emergency."
Also, "all salix shall be administered no later than three hours prior to post time for the horses by the veterinarian designated by the commission. Failure to do so will result in the horse being scratched. No exceptions."