Yet another horse has died after a race at a Triple Crown track.
Excursionniste was injured and euthanized during the 13th and final race at Belmont Park on Saturday, which was the one that immediately followed the Belmont Stakes’ main event.
According to USA Today, which cited the Equibase race chart, Excursionniste led at the quarter-mile mark and was in second place when the turf race reached a half mile, and New York Racing Association spokesman Pat McKenna said in a statement to the Associated Press that the horse sustained a “catastrophic injury to its left front leg.”
“Despite the immediate response and best efforts of on-site attending veterinarians,” McKenna said in the statement to the AP, “the horse was humanely euthanized due to the severity of the injury.”
PETA senior vice president Kathy Guillermo said in a statement that “racing couldn’t manage to keep all horses alive for even one Triple Crown day this year,” adding that it had encouraged the NYRA and New York State Gaming Commission “to require CT scans for all horses racing today in order to screen for preexisting injuries.”
The organization had also called for the Belmont Stakes to be postponed earlier in the week due to the low air quality stemming from the Canadian wildfires, though those levels improved leading up to Saturday.
But PETA still criticized the hosts of the Triple Crown’s final stage following the latest horse death amid a concerning stretch in the sport.
“The racing industry is digging its own grave — as well as this horse’s,” Guillermo wrote in the PETA statement Saturday night.
About 40 minutes before Excursionniste’s injury, Arcangelo won the 2023 Belmont Stakes and trainer Jena Antonucci became the first female trainer to claim a Triple Crown title.
Jockey Javier Castellano also won another Triple Crown race after guiding Mage to a Kentucky Derby victory in May.
“When we were walking out, I said there is not a table made for you,” Antonucci said following the race, according to the AP. “You make the table. You put great people around you, you work hard. Work your tail off. It will come if you do it the right way. Do it the right way.”
But after the first 12 races at Belmont Park ended without any fatalities, that changed in the 13th and final event.
Excursionniste’s death continues a disturbing trend in horse racing.
Churchill Downs suspended operations through the end of the Spring Meet schedule following a stretch leading up to and during the Kentucky Derby where 12 horses died at the racetrack, another horse died the morning of the Preakness Stakes and, according to the AP, Excursionniste became the third horse to die at Belmont Park this year.
“Devestated [sic]. There’s just no other word,” Little Blue Bird Stables, where Excursionniste was trained by Mark Henning, wrote on Twitter following the horse’s death. “He was our big, goofy, talented, crazy, 1 for 16 NYB superstar. We do everything as a team, and will console as one for quite a while.”