The Meadows Racetrack and Casino remains troubled by the unusual occurrence of two horse deaths, unrelated, that happened within 15 minutes of each other.
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is investigating the deaths. Many questions are being asked and require answers in the unprecedented incidents that happened in short succession.
Mike Jeannot of The Meadows said, “In an average year, we will have three to four horses go down in a year. So it’s very unusual.”
The deaths of the two horses, both mares, happened suddenly and at short interval from each other - one during a race and the other before a race.
According to Jeannot, the first mare died shortly before the start of the 14th race as the driver was preparing for competition behind the starting gate. A necropsy has been performed and results are expected in 30 to 45 days. It appears that the horse died as she [in harness horse lingo] “choked down,” a condition that prevents breathing.
Unfortunately in race 15, the second mare died. There have been various explanations about her cause of death with one spokesperson saying, “It is not yet known what caused her death.” However, spokesperson Samantha Krepps said this horse was euthanized after breaking a leg. She said, “At the end of the 15th race, the horse went down on a stretch of track. Her fall didn’t interfere with any other horses.”
Krepps also stated, “An evaluation of circumstances surrounding the deaths is underway.
Thankfully no drivers were injured, and no other horses were involved in either incident.
Jeannot said, “Two horses in one day is way out of the ordinary. It's not only unusual, it's unprecedented."
“The Harness Racing Commission, which initiates investigations at the racetrack, will take action if evidence emerges showing the trainer violated any rules,” Krepps said.
Kim Hankins, executive director of Meadows Standardbred Owners Association, considers these circumstances nearly unfathomable. “I’ve been around racing all my life,” said Hawkins. “This is very, very unusual. They are competitive animals, and this does happen, but twice is so phenomenally coincidental. It’s unbelievable.”
A statement released by the Meadows family said, "The Meadows family was saddened by the unfortunate deaths of two horses earlier this week at our track, especially given the circumstance of their timing being so close together. We are working with the state Department of Agriculture and the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association to evaluate the events that took place on February 4th."
For the owners at the Meadows, the deaths are tough to take – the horses are family.
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