Havnameltdown, favored in the Chick Lang Stakes on Preakness day, was euthanized after throwing jockey Luis Saez and suffering an injury on the far turn in the sixth race Saturday at Pimlico Race Course.
Saez, a leading jockey in the U.S., was strapped to a backboard and taken via ambulance to Sinai Hospital. He was conscious and complaining of leg pain, but was released later in the afternoon, according to his agent.
Track personnel quickly circled Havnameltdown, trained by Bob Baffert, after he was corralled on the track in front of the seating area. They obscured the view with barriers before loading the 3-year-old colt onto a trailer. According to a statement from 1/ST Racing, the parent company of the Maryland Jockey Club, Havnameltdown suffered an inoperable left fore fetlock injury.
Baffert, who missed all three Triple Crown races last year after being suspended because his 2021 Kentucky Derby winner, Medina Spirit, tested positive for a potential performance-enhancing drug, said he felt “shock and disbelief” as he watched the race.
“We’re just devastated,” said Baffert, who would set a record for most wins in Preakness with eight if National Treasure crosses first. “It’s devastating for the whole crew.”
Horse racing has faced mounting scrutiny during this chase for the Triple Crown after seven horses died in the run-up to the Kentucky Derby and another on the day after the race.
“We do grieve when these things happen,” Baffert said. “There is nothing worse than coming back and the stall is empty.”