Sunday, July 20, 2008

A New Issue: Water Safety in Horse Racing

Generally, I refrain from posting about horse racing fatalities - they're downright unfunny. However, yesterday afternoon at Lone Star Park, a horse ended up in the infield lake. Gary West posted a brief in this morning's Star-Telegram,
Jockey Bryan McNeil was taken to a local hospital and Mr. Smee ended up in one of the infield lakes after Saturday’s final race ... When the field of older horses entered the turn of the turf sprint, Mr. Smee appeared to be in distress. As he ducked in, McNeil fell off the side, and Mr. Smee ducked through the inside rail and then into the lake, where he died.

Regardless of the fact that Mr. Smee was racing for a $15,000 tag, he certainly deserves a better epitaph other than he was a lousy swimmer. The 5-year-old Texas-bred chestnut gelding was trained by Cheryl Asmussen and had bankrolled $109,756 over a 37 race career.

Oddly enough, I don't recall ever reading or hearing about an incident such as this. Why would a horse run into an infield lake? Granted, it was 100 degrees here yesterday, as well as an Warning Level Fuchsia Ozone Action Day, but into a lake?? And what of Mr. Smee's legacy? Will PETA demand the ban of hot summer days and infield lakes?

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram was proactive on this recent accident. On page 11c of the sports section, right next to Lone Star Park's highlights, insights, and selections for today's race card, was the following column,

Don't take safety for granted on next trip to lake


itchierichie said...

A few years back, the 1990s, at Remington Park in Oklahoma City a similar incident occurred. Donna (Barton) Brothers had about a two-length lead coming into the stretch of the turf course on a horse named Benevolent. When she tapped the horse turning for home he turned hard left into the inside rail. Donna fell and landed on the rail right on her ribs. She had the breath knocked out of her and a concussion.
The horse jumped the rail and went into the infield where he promptly headed for the lake. There were about 10,000 people in attendance that day and I remember thinking they all were going to get to experience a horse drowning.
He went in and soon he was up to his neck in water, but eventually he made it across the lake which was less wide than that of Lone Star's.
The horse's owner told Donna, "I'm so sorry. You can ride this horse back any time you want."
Her reply: "No, thank you."
Richard Linihan
Tulsa World
Horse columnist

Anonymous said...

Brilliant posts are becoming the norm, Suebroux!

suebroux said...

Gary West posted an update on his blog, West Points, regarding Mr. Smee's breakdown, indicating that it appeared that Mr. Smee had suffered a breakdown before the turn and that it was "unclear whether he died as he hit the water or in the lake, where he made no effort to swim or struggle to get out." Jockey Bryan McNeil broke his left arm.

Jen Morrison said...

Hey Sue

the most famous such incident is PUSS N BOOTS at Fort Erie racetrack in ontario yars ago when he jumped in the lake and someon went in to get him
there is a stakes race named in his honour and after the stake, the owners, trainer and/or jockey jump in the lake as a tradition!
there are pictures of Puss N Boots on the fort erie website.

Jen Morrison said...

A friend wants to know the update on Nightmare Affair - you have written about him before...can you tell us?


alan said...

Perhaps someone should start looking into synthetic infield lakes. Polywater....Cushion Aqua....Tapeta Wet Footing. (ugh, sorry...downright unfunny as you said.)