Keeneland horses

Colts pass the finish line for the first time in the Blue Grass Stakes.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) – It’s exactly what horse racing doesn’t need, of course. On the busiest day of the Kentucky Derby prep season, and biggest day of the Keeneland spring racing meet, a filly was pulled up at the head of the stretch with an injury to her right front leg.

Cathedral Reader, a 4-year-old chestnut filly trained by Dallas Stewart, was among the leaders of the Grade 1 Madison Stakes racing four-wide into the turn when something went wrong and she was pulled up by rider Brian Hernandez.

She was vanned off and later euthanized, according to the track.

The injury comes amid heightened scrutiny of the sport, following 23 deaths at Santa Anita Park during the track’s first two months of racing. It was the first fatality at Keeneland since the beginning of the spring meet began on Thursday.

But every fatality brings renewed calls to examine the underlying issues, from racing surface to treatment of horses to medications and even breeding practices.

The first step is an honest accounting of the incidents, and a thorough examination of each individual case. That’s the procedure required by state law in Kentucky.

Cathedral Reader had started nine career races and won three of them, with two seconds and a third.

“On what was an otherwise spectacular day, our celebration is tempered due to the catastrophic injury sustained by Cathedral Reader during the running of the Madison,” Keeneland president and CEO Bill Thomason said. “We have spoken with Ms. Gayle Benson’s Racing Manager, Greg Bensel, and trainer Dallas Stewart, expressing our sympathy for their loss.”

Thomason said that further investigation into the incident will involve a necropsy at the University of Kentucky Diagnostic Lab.

“Keeneland, in full cooperation with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, will perform a full investigation, which includes continued evaluation of race track surface conditions, forensic review of past race performances, veterinary records, and personal interviews with the jockey, trainer and attending veterinarian,” Thomason said. “Keeneland has received nothing but positive feedback about the racing surface since it reopened in mid-March from the winter break. As is Keeneland’s normal procedure, we will review and evaluate all facets of our racing operation to ensure the safest possible environment for the equine and human athletes participating in our racing program.”

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