Keeneland

Horse euthanized after breaking down at Keeneland on Blue Grass Stakes Day

Photo slideshow: Blue Grass Stakes day at Keeneland

Fans break the track record for an opening Saturday with official attendance set at 34,775 on Toyota Blue Grass Stakes day at Keeneland. Vekoma, with jockey Javier Castellano up, won the 95th running of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes.
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Fans break the track record for an opening Saturday with official attendance set at 34,775 on Toyota Blue Grass Stakes day at Keeneland. Vekoma, with jockey Javier Castellano up, won the 95th running of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes.

Cathedral Reader, a 4-year-old chestnut filly, broke down at the top of the stretch during Keeneland’s eighth race Saturday and was euthanized, according to reports.

WKYT reported that GMB Racing Operation’s Greg Bensel confirmed Cathedral Reader had been euthanized after being vanned off the track for evaluation at the conclusion of the Madison Stakes, the eighth race on the card for Keeneland’s Toyota Blue Grass Stakes Day.

Cathedral Reader was trained by Dallas Stewart, whose Out for a Spin won the next race, the Central Bank Ashland Stakes. He did not comment on Cathedral Reader. Keeneland confirmed the horse was euthanized later Saturday with a statement from president and CEO Bill Thomason.

“We have spoken with Ms. Gayle Benson’s Racing Manager, Greg Bensel, and trainer Dallas Stewart, expressing our sympathy for their loss,” Thomason said in the statement. “As is the law in Kentucky, the horse will be transported to the University of Kentucky Diagnostic Lab for a complete necropsy.”

Immediately following the race, the Daily Racing Form’s Nicole Russo reported on Twitter that the front limb injury was “pretty severe,” according to Dr. Bruce Howard, chief veterinarian for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission..

The fatal injury is the first for Keeneland this meet, but follows a spate of deaths at Santa Anita Park in California that forced that track to shutter operations for a time to evaluate conditions. It also follows a dramatic uptick of horse racing deaths in Kentucky in 2018 over previous years with no real clues as to why, although there’s been a move to ban a certain class of drugs in recent months.

“Keeneland, in full cooperation with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, will perform a full investigation, which includes continued evaluation of race track surface conditions, forensic review of past race performances, veterinary records, and personal interviews with the jockey, trainer and attending veterinarian,” Thomason’s statement continued about Saturday’s death. “Keeneland has received nothing but positive feedback about the racing surface since it reopened in mid-March from the winter break. As is Keeneland’s normal procedure, we will review and evaluate all facets of our racing operation to ensure the safest possible environment for the equine and human athletes participating in our racing program. For an overview of Keeneland’s safety protocols and initiatives, visit Keeneland.com/safety.”

There were five horse deaths in 2018 at Keeneland, according to the Equine Injury Database.

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