Tragedy unfolded at the Saratoga Springs Raceway on Saturday during the $500,000 Test when Maple Leaf Mel, the three-year-old undefeated filly belonging to retired New York Giants head coach Bill Parcells, collapsed just inches from the finish line.
Maple Leaf Mel suffered a catastrophic injury to her right front leg and was quickly, and humanely, euthanized on the track.
Jockey Joel Rosario was unseated during the collapse and suffered injuries to his face and gums. He was taken to a private vehicle for stitches and then transported to Albany Medical Center.
Maple Leaf Mel went down at the wire of the @TheNYRA #Saratoga G1 Test and was humanely euthanized on track with a catastrophic injury to her right front per Dr. Luis Castro.
Joel Rosario, who was unseated, walked to the ambulance and will visit First Aid
— Keith-TripleDeadHeat (@TripleDeadHeat) August 5, 2023
“I feel so bad for the connections of Mel. It’s hard to enjoy this one thinking about that. My condolences go out to their team. Hopefully, they’re able to get through this and God bless them,” the winning jockey, Tyler Gaffalione, said via ESPN.
Maple Leaf Mel was named after her trainer, Melanie Giddings, who has who survived Stage 4 endocervical and ovarian cancer. The filly was unbeaten in five starts before making her Grade 1 debut on Saturday.
“The health and safety of horses and jockeys competing at NYRA tracks is our highest priority and one that stands above all other considerations,” said Pat McKenna, NYRA vice president of communications. “NYRA, HISA and the New York State Gaming Commission will closely review the circumstances around this incident to ensure we are providing the safest possible environment for racing and training at Saratoga Race Course.”
Prior to the race, Maple Leaf Mel passed the required prerace veterinary inspection.
Since 2009, there have been more than 200 horse deaths at the Saratoga Springs Raceway.
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