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Blaring sound system causes death of racehorse at Churchill Downs

An unusual incident happened Thursday afternoon, May 22, at Churchill Downs, costing the life of a young racehorse. The Thoroughbred mare was training prior to the first race and was being led onto the track at the time of the accident.

Stats for the giant screen installed just prior to the Derby at Churchill Downs
Stats for the giant screen installed just prior to the Derby at Churchill DownsChurchill Downs
This is the front entrance to the Churchill Downs Racetrack
This is the front entrance to the Churchill Downs RacetrackWikipedia

Apparently, the five-year-old mare, Never Tell Lynda, startled suddenly at the loudspeakers just as she was about to begin her day’s training. She was unnerved as the speakers broadcast a very loud commercial on the giant screen featuring horses breaking from the starting gate with all the associated hoopla and noise that accompanies a starting race.

Kenny Wirth, trainer, spoke with Jennie Rees of the Louisville Courier-Journal about the untimely accident of Never Tell Lynda. The horse was leading calmly when, suddenly, the commercial began blaring from the newly-enhanced sound system. She immediately reacted and reared up, twisted, and fell. She hit the ground hard, striking her head. The fall injured her severely and a state veterinarian had to put her down on the racetrack.

Will Farmer who is the chief veterinarian for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission acknowledged none of the state veterinarians witnessed the accident. Until the necropsy results are complete on Never Tell Lynda, the vets do not have a precise cause of death.

Wirth is based at Churchill Downs, in the trackside training center. He had only schooled Never Tell Lynda for the third time.

He said that the sound system was excessively loud. He had difficulty talking with his groom because of it.

Wirth noted,

… And as you’re walking back, they’ve got that commercial that comes on and they ring that damn bell like they’re breaking from the gate. She got stirred up.

Until the mare flared up, Wirth said that she acted perfectly and walked “like a lamb over to the front side.”

Sadly, Never Tell Lynda reacted with fright and suffered the fatal fall during which she struck her head. Wirth called the track stewards to tell them that something had to be done about the excessively loud speaker system.

He said,

It’s got to be about the horses. It can’t be all this circus crap.

Churchill Downs offered condolences and promised to look into the matter of the loudness of the sound system. They intend to rectify any problems.