On the day of the 148th Preakness Stakes, jockey Luis Saez fell from his horse during an undercard race at Pimlico Racecourse and was taken to a Baltimore area hospital. His companion, Havna Meltdown, injured his left front ankle and was euthanized on the track.
Havna Meltdown got off to a slow start in Race 6 of the Card, the Chicklang Stakes, as he struggled to exit the gate cleanly. Saez was battling for the lead, but in the middle of the turn, he was thrown off his horse and slammed hard into the ground, tumbling over the dirt several times. Havna Meltdown temporarily continued running without a jockey before pulling back.
Bob Baffert’s Havna Meltdown was the favorite to win with odds of 4/5. His last run before Pimlico was second in the Saudi Derby. Leivodt won the Chicklang Stakes, a six-furlong race for three-year-olds with a prize pool of $200,000.
Saez was apparently conscious on the track and complained of pain in his leg as he was stretchered off to hospital in an ambulance, according to NBC Sports. Subsequent broadcasts said Saez was in stable condition, conscious, and talking in the hospital. X-rays have been positive, and a representative told NBC Sports that Saez is in good shape and hopes to be back on the saddle as soon as possible tomorrow.
“[Havnameltdown’s injury] It was so bad that they could do nothing with him. This horse had to be humanely euthanized,” AAEP on-call veterinarian Dr. Scott Hay said during the NBC broadcast. Multiple veterinarians are stationed on site to rush to the horse as soon as possible in case of an injury or accident on the riding grounds.
Havna Meltdown was not taken to the barn for further examination and treatment but said, “The extent of the injury was serious enough that it would have been more comfortable at that point than going through the process of putting the horse on the horse.” It was probably in the horse’s best interest to let him die.” An ambulance,” Hay explained.
Veterinarians said from what they have seen so far, the course appears safe enough to continue racing today. The incident came two weeks after the Kentucky Derby, where eight horses died at Churchill Downs heading into the Run for the Roses.
The 31-year-old Panama native finished first in the 2019 Kentucky Derby aboard Maximum Security. However, the horse was eventually disqualified for obstruction, and Country House was awarded the win instead.