WELLINGTON, Fla., April 21 (UPI) -- An investigation of the death of 21 polo horses centers on whether they died from a toxin, a virus or a contagious disease, said officials in Wellington, Fla.
"The magnitude of this is shocking," said Peter Rizzo, executive director of the United States Polo Association. "Whatever killed these horses, we don't want to see it again."
The horses died Sunday, some collapsing on the polo grounds where hundreds of people had come to watch the U.S. Open Polo Championship, while others died in a nearby stable, The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post reported Tuesday.
The horses belonged to team Lechuza Caracas, owned by Venezuelan multimillionaire Victor Vargas who cradled several of the horses in his arms as they lay dying, the Post reported.
Necropsies on the horses were to be performed Monday and Tuesday as investigators sought to determine whether the deaths were accidental or a criminal act, the Post reported.
"Was it hay, feed, bedding, water? There are a lot of unanswered
questions. Horses may be big, but they are delicate animals," said Mark Fagan, a spokesman for the state Agriculture Department.