It’s been a tough start to the year for the horse-racing world in 2019, and perhaps the worst development yet happened on Friday when a filly named Congrats Gal died on the track at Pimlico Race Course.
Just a day before the second leg of the Triple Crown is held at the same track, Pimlico hosted an eight-horse Miss Preakness Stakes race.
According to an AP report, the 3-year-old filly faltered in the upper stretch of the race and had to be eased to the finish line for an eighth-place finish. Congrats Gal collapsed after the race and was quickly attended to by medical staff and taken off the track by an ambulance.
The Stronach Group, which oversees Pimlico, and Maryland Jockey Club confirmed the horse’s death in a statement:
“Our thoughts go out to all of the owners, trainers and connections of Congrats Gal,” the statement read. “The Stronach Group is committed to the welfare and safety of horses above all and we are saddened by what happened today. A full necropsy will be performed to try to determine the cause of death.”
Congrats Gal was in her sixth race and came into Friday with a career 3-1-1 record.
The filly’s death will likely not quell complaints about the 149-year-old Pimlico track. Although weather is expected to be clear for the Preakness on Saturday night, the track’s quality has deteriorated enough that the Stronach Group tried to move the race to nearby Laurel Park.
More bad news for the horse-racing world
Things have not gone smoothly in horse racing the last few months, even dating back before the controversial Kentucky Derby. Three days before the May 4 race, 4-1 favorite Omaha Beach dropped out because of health problems, which made the 2019 running one of the most wide-open races in recent memory.
During the actual race, the favorite was the first to cross the finish line for the seventh straight year, but officials ruled that Maximum Security impeded the path of another horse and was disqualified. That gave Country House the first Kentucky Derby win ever for a horse that did not finish first.
Even worse, Country House will not compete in the Preakness Stakes because of health reasons, making this the first Preakness without the Kentucky Derby winner in 23 years. Two weeks earlier, Maximum Security’s owner announced that the horse would skip the race as well.
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