Tragedy struck the Preakness day races in Baltimore, Maryland today, as two horses died in separate incidents, according to the Baltimore Sun. One of them, a 9-year-old Maryland-bred horse named Homeboykris, came into his early race as a 9-1 underdog and stole first place in the final stretch, only to collapse on his way back from the winners circle. The other, Pramedya, 4 years old, suffered a leg fracture after collapsing, and was euthanized on the track—a typical practice for race horses with broken legs.
The incident brings into relief the ethical issues of pushing animals to their physical limit, treating them like athletes, when, unlike athletes, they don't have the voice or agency to decide when enough is enough. Homeboykris had raced in the 2010 Kentucky derby, and was just slightly under the typical retirement age of 10-years-old when he died.
Homeboykris's trainer Francis Campitelli was in the stands when he collapsed, and commented to the Sun about his condition,
"The horse was in really good health for a 9-year-old horse. When we claimed him, I was really amazed at how good of health. He had no infirmities in his legs. He was just in such good health, you know?"
He later went on to describe the moment that he fell.
"So apparently, not long after leaving the winner's circle, the boy that takes care of him said they had gone probably 100 yards, and he got wobbly and fell over and he pretty much was dead when he hit the ground," Campitelli said. "They're thinking at this point it was some sort of heart attack—you know, ruptured aorta or something like that. We won't know until they do a necropsy on him, just to find out exactly what happened."
Racetrack officials told the Sun that Homeboykris will soon receive an autopsy at the New Bolton Center Hospital in Pennsylvania. Ultimately, Homeboykris's career earned humans an estimated $567,389, but cost him his life.