It was an ominous start to the Preakness Stakes, with gray skies, a steady flow of rain, and muddy track conditions.
And then the first winner on Saturday (May 21), Homeboykris, died from apparent heart failure shortly after leaving the winner’s circle, according to track officials.
The nine-year-old horse collapsed and died while walking back to the barn after getting his picture taken. An autopsy will be performed at the New Bolton Center Hospital in Pennsylvania.
Not long after, another horse died on the track. During the fourth race, four-year-old Pramedya was euthanized after she broke her left front leg. The horse’s jockey, Daniel Centeno, broke his collarbone from the fall and was taken to the hospital.
Horse racing is a notoriously dangerous sport. A New York Times analysis from 2012 found that 24 horses die on US racetracks each week. From 2009 to 2012, the US logged 5.2 incidents per 1,000 starts, with the worst accident taking place at the 2012 Charles Town Races in West Virginia where seven horses fell and only one made it to the finish line.
The owner of Pramedya, Lael Stables, also owned Barbaro, who won the Kentucky Derby in 2006 two weeks before breaking his right hind leg in the Preakness Stakes. Barbaro died eight months later.