The Preakness Stakes is one of three prestigious races that make up the Triple Crown series of races: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. Horses that manage to win all three are famous: you’ve heard of Citation? Whirl-away? Secretariat? This year’s Preakness was held in Baltimore. Writing of the tragic deaths in the Allied News, John Morlino’s article of June 7 illustrates “our conflicted relationship with animals,” by pointing out that people who race horses tacitly accept the fact that horses may die early deaths from what Morlino calls “transgressions,” crimes committed against horses. Here is Morlino’s list of human crimes that contribute to horse injuries and too often, premature death. They are “greed, corruption, performance-enhancing and pain-masking drugs, and breeding practices.” Homeboykris won the first contest of the day but died from what looked like heart failure, said those who performed the necropsy. He collapsed on his way back to the barn and had to be euthanized. Pramedya tried to run in the fourth race but suffered a fractured leg that Morlino describes as “dangling grotesquely in front of her.” She never made it back to the barn, but had to be euthanized on the track.
The reasons for these deaths? When asked why Pramedya died, her owner, Roy Jackson, said “We haven’t fully digested the whole thing,” but “life goes on.” It was found that Homeboykris had an elevated level of dexamethasone in his blood, said the Maryland Racing Commission. The accepted level of pictograms per milliliter is 5, but Homeboykris, nine years old, had 30.
Much more research is needed into the dangers of racing older horses and perhaps rewriting the rules that govern the acceptable age of a race horse to run.