Two horses died during races at Belmont Park in New York this weekend. The deaths come after several similar incidents at major race tracks this year –in a month at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby.
Thirteen races were held at the park Saturday and Sunday, including the Belmont Stakes, the final leg of the Triple Crown that also includes the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
On Saturday, a horse named Excursionniste suffered “catastrophic injury to its left front leg” and was euthanized, according to the Associated Press.
The horse belonged to Little Bird Stables, which tweeted about the death on Saturday: “Devastated. There’s just no other word. 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.”
On Sunday, a horse named Mashnee Gril, which belonged to Mashnee Stables, was euthanized on the track after a leg injury, according to a New York Racing Association official.
“Per NYRA’s Sr. Examining Veterinarian, Mashnee Girl sustained a catastrophic injury to her left front leg in R1 on Sunday and was humanely euthanized on track,” the official tweeted. “Jockey Jose Lezcano visited first aid and is cleared to ride.”
The horses had the same trainer, Mark Henning.
PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo released a statement on the deaths, which happened less than 24 hours apart. “Two dead thoroughbreds in two days with the same trainer on the same track means one thing: Belmont Park is failing to protect horses,” Guillermo said. “Like Churchill Downs, Belmont must suspend racing immediately to avoid the same bloodbath. Anything less makes Belmont complicit in the fatalities.”
After two 7-year-old horses became the 11th and 12th to die atthe race track said they “do not accept this as suitable or tolerable,” according to the Associated Press. The race track said they had been “rigorously working since the opening of the meet to understand what has led to this spike and have yet to find a conclusive discernable pattern as we await the findings of ongoing investigations into those injuries and fatalities.”
The race track had previously opened an investigation into early deaths with the Kentucky Horseracing Commission and the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority.
During the Preakness – the second race in the Triple Crown series – a horse died at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore,The horse, Havnameltdown, belonged to Bob Baffert, who was banned from the Kentucky Derby in 2021 after his winning horse failed a drug test. In a statement following Havnameltdown’s death, PETA said Baffert should have been banned from Pimlico too.
CBS News has reached out to NYRA for comment on the recent horse deaths and is awaiting a response.