BALTIMORE A filly collapsed and died while running at Pimlico Race Course on Friday, the day before the track hosts the second leg of the Triple Crown.
Congrats Gal faltered in the upper stretch of the Miss Preakness Stakes in 83-degree heat and was eased to the finish line.
The Florida-bred 3-year-old was running her sixth career race. She came in last in the eighth race on the card and fell to the dirt about 100 yards past the finish line.
Clearly distraught, Congrats Gal jockey Trevor McCarthy said the filly felt hot walking on the track before the race. As a medical team rushed to the scene, McCarthy said, "She's clearly sound. Nothing's broken or anything like that."
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After being treated on the scene, Congrats Gal was taken from the track by ambulance.
The Stronach Group, which owns Pimlico, and the Maryland Jockey Club confirmed the death in a statement: "Commission veterinarians attended to the horse immediately. A full necropsy will be performed to try to determine the cause of death."
The death marred one of the two biggest days of the year at aging Pimlico, where a sizable crowd gathered for Black-Eyed Susan Day.
Covfefe won the eight-horse race for 3-year-old fillies. Owned by Charles Biggs, Congrats Gal was sired by A.P. Indy. She had a 3-1-1 record going into the race with winnings of $134,740.
The Preakness on Saturday will be run without the Kentucky Derby winner for the first time since 1996, ending any prospects for a Triple Crown. In that race, a tight crowd of horses near the finish line on a muddy track could have led to a disastrous collision.
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When Maximum Security drifted to his right in the final turn, his back legs almost became entangled with those of War of Will behind him. The foul caused Maximum Security to be the first Kentucky Derby winner to be disqualified for interference in the 145-year history of the race.
"It would've been catastrophic had he fell," War of Will trainer Mark Casse said. "What didn't happen was the most important thing of all for people's lives, for our sport and for everything."
It's been a difficult year for horse racing and 149-year-old Pimlico, which has deteriorated to the point where the Stronach Group has advocated moving the Preakness to nearby Laurel Park.
In addition, the safety of the horses has come into focus. There have been 23 horse deaths at Santa Anita Park in California over a span of three months.