Horses break from the gate at the start of the second race prior to the 148th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on Saturday. Photo by Mark Abraham/UPI | License Photo
May 20 (UPI) -- Havnameltdown, a racehorse trained by Bob Baffert, was euthanized Saturday after he suffered an injury to his left front ankle in a fall during a Preakness undercard at Pimlico Race Course.
Jockey Luis Saez was injured in the incident, which marked the ninth racehorse death at Triple Crown tracks since the week before the Kentucky Derby on May 6, according to animal rights activists.
"Hanvameltdown was obviously hit pretty hard coming out of the gate. We don't know if that contributed to the injury, but we will be fully transparent with those reviewing this terrible accident," Baffert said in a statement on Twitter.
"We are just devastated. This is a shock to everyone at our barn who love and care for these horses every day."
Baffert, 70, said the team hopes Saez makes a full recovery after he was thrown from the horse in the $200,000 Grade 3 Chick Lang Stakes race in Baltimore.
The Steve Asmussen-trained horse Ryvit won the race.
Baffert told the Washington Post the team has never had an issue with the 3-year-old colt before Saturday.
"We are so careful with all these horses, and it still happens," he said. "It is something that is very disheartening. I feel so bad for that horse, and I just hope that Luis is okay."
Havnameltdown's owners, 1/ST Racing, said in a statement to the Louisville Courier-Journal that he was examined by veterinarian Dionne Benson who "made the difficult decision to humanely euthanize" because the injury was "non-operable."
The incident marked the first time a horse was euthanized on Preakness Day since 2016, when two horses were put down.
However, the animal welfare advocacy group PETA noted in a statement that Havnameltdown's death continued a pattern of deaths this year at Triple Crown tracks with another race still to go.
"The deadly race for the Triple Crown -- which consists of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes -- is underway, leaving a trail of dead horses in its wake," the group said.
Baffert was expected to saddle National Treasure later Saturday for the Preakness.