Filly dies on track at Pimlico the day before Preakness

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Courier-Journal’s Jason Frakes breaks down why Maximum Security and Country House are not racing at Preakness.

BALTIMORE (AP) — A filly collapsed and died while running at Pimlico Race Course on Friday, the day before the track hosts the second leg of the Triple Crown.

Congrats Gal faltered in the upper stretch of the Miss Preakness Stakes in 83-degree heat and was eased to the finish line.

The Florida-bred 3-year-old was running her sixth career race. She came in last in the eighth race on the card and fell to the dirt about 100 yards past the finish line.

Clearly distraught, Congrats Gal jockey Trevor McCarthy said the filly felt hot walking on the track before the race. As a medical team rushed to the scene, McCarthy said, “She’s clearly sound. Nothing’s broken or anything like that.”

After being treated on the scene, Congrats Gal was taken from the track by ambulance.

The Stronach Group, which owns Pimlico, and the Maryland Jockey Club confirmed the death in a statement: “Commission veterinarians attended to the horse immediately. A full necropsy will be performed to try to determine the cause of death.”

The death marred one of the two biggest days of the year at aging Pimlico, where a sizable crowd gathered for Black-Eyed Susan Day.

Covfefe won the eight-horse race for 3-year-old fillies. Owned by Charles Biggs, Congrats Gal was sired by A.P. Indy. She had a 3-1-1 record going into the race with winnings of $134,740.

The Preakness on Saturday will be run without the Kentucky Derby winner for the first time since 1996, ending any prospects for a Triple Crown. In that race, a tight crowd of horses near the finish line on a muddy track could have led to a disastrous collision.

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When Maximum Security drifted to his right in the final turn, his back legs almost became entangled with those of War of Will behind him. The foul caused Maximum Security to be the first Kentucky Derby winner to be disqualified for interference in the 145-year history of the race.

“It would’ve been catastrophic had he fell,” War of Will trainer Mark Casse said. “What didn’t happen was the most important thing of all for people’s lives, for our sport and for everything.”

It’s been a difficult year for horse racing — and 149-year-old Pimlico, which has deteriorated to the point where the Stronach Group has advocated moving the Preakness to nearby Laurel Park.

In addition, the safety of the horses has come into focus. There have been 23 horse deaths at Santa Anita Park in California over a span of three months.

Country House won the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby, though the horse didn't cross the finish line first.
Country House won the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby, though the horse didn’t cross the finish line first. Brian Spurlock, USA TODAY Sports
Luis Saez rode Maximum Security across the finish line first, but there was a challenge.
Luis Saez rode Maximum Security across the finish line first, but there was a challenge. Mark Zerof, USA TODAY Sports
Country House (20) finished second in the race, but was awarded the win when Maximum Security was disqualified.
Country House (20) finished second in the race, but was awarded the win when Maximum Security was disqualified. John Minchillo, AP
Maximum Security, second from right, bumps into other horses on the lead at the head of the stretch. Maximum Security was disqualified for interference, awarding the race to Kentucky Derby 2019 winner Country House
Maximum Security, second from right, bumps into other horses on the lead at the head of the stretch. Maximum Security was taken down for interference. By Pat McDonogh, Courier Journal
Maximum Security jockey Luis Saez awaits a ruling from the stewards.
Maximum Security jockey Luis Saez awaits a ruling from the stewards. Brian Spurlock, USA TODAY Sports
Jockey Luis Saez reacts to the ruling. Maximum Security was the first winner in Derby history to lose on an objection.
Jockey Luis Saez reacts to the ruling. Maximum Security was the first first-place finisher in Derby history to lose on an objection. Brian Spurlock, USA TODAY Sports
After being awarded the win, Flavien Prat rides Country House into the winner's circle.
After being awarded the win, Flavien Prat rides Country House into the winner’s circle. Jamie Rhodes, USA TODAY Sports
County House trainer Bill Mott and jockey Flavien Prat celebrate with the Kentucky Derby trophy.
County House trainer Bill Mott and jockey Flavien Prat celebrate with the Kentucky Derby trophy. Andy Lyons, Getty Images
Luis Saez aboard Maximum Security (7), Chris Landeros aboard Bodexpress (21) and Jon Court aboard Long Range Toddy.
Luis Saez aboard Maximum Security (7), Chris Landeros aboard Bodexpress (21) and Jon Court aboard Long Range Toddy (18) are side by side earlier in the race. Mark Zerof, USA TODAY Sports
Horses race at the start of the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
Horses race early in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Mark Zerof, USA TODAY Sports
Horses race at the start of the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby.
And they’re off. Mark Zerof, USA TODAY Sports
Lauren Wilt and other fans cheers during a pre-derby race at Churchill Downs.
Lauren Wilt and other fans cheers during a pre-derby race at Churchill Downs. Jamie Rhodes, USA TODAY Sports
Noah Walsh proposes to Brittany Angelini.
Noah Walsh proposes to Brittany Angelini. Jim Owens, USA TODAY Sports
A view of the winner's circle before the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
A view of the winner’s circle before the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Jamie Rhodes, USA TODAY Sports
A bartender prepares a thousand dollar mint julep.
A bartender prepares a thousand dollar mint julep. Jamie Rhodes, USA TODAY Sports
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and girlfriend Linda Holliday arrive on the red carpet ahead of the Derby.
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and girlfriend Linda Holliday arrive on the red carpet ahead of the Derby. Mark Zerof, USA TODAY Sports
Women in derby attire look out towards the paddock area at Churchill Downs ahead of the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby.
Women in derby attire look out towards the paddock area at Churchill Downs ahead of the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby. Jamie Rhodes, USA TODAY Sports
Handler Mike Bolt carries the Stanley Cup on the red carpet before the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby.
Handler Mike Bolt carries the Stanley Cup on the red carpet before the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby. Mark Zerof, USA TODAY Sports
A horse is led through the paddock area before the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby.
A horse is led through the paddock area before the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby. Jamie Rhodes, USA TODAY Sports
A couple in derby attire kiss with the Churchill Downs twin spires in the background.
A couple in derby attire kiss with the Churchill Downs twin spires in the background. Jamie Rhodes, USA TODAY Sports
Fans get comfortable on the Churchill Downs infield before the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby.
Fans get comfortable on the Churchill Downs infield before the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby. Jamie Rhodes, USA TODAY Sports
IndyCar Series driver Josef Newgarden and Ashley Welch arrive on the red carpet before the Derby.
IndyCar Series driver Josef Newgarden and Ashley Welch arrive on the red carpet before the Derby. Mark Zerof, USA TODAY Sports
A race goes off before the Derby.
A race goes off before the Derby. Jamie Rhodes, USA TODAY Sports
A fan is dressed as Abraham Lincoln.
A fan is dressed as Abraham Lincoln. Mark Zerof, USA TODAY Sports
Mint juleps for sale.
Mint juleps for sale. Jamie Rhodes, USA TODAY Sports
Bill and Carla Schuyler take a selfie.
Bill and Carla Schuyler take a selfie. Jamie Rhodes, USA TODAY Sports
Former NFL quarterback Warren Moon arrives on the red carpet before the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby.
Former NFL quarterback Warren Moon arrives on the red carpet before the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby. Mark Zerof, USA TODAY Sports
Roses from the infield with the twin spires in the background.
Roses from the infield with the twin spires in the background. Jamie Rhodes, USA TODAY Sports
A bartender prepares a thousand dollar mint julep.
A bartender prepares a thousand dollar mint julep. Jamie Rhodes, USA TODAY Sports
A couple pose for a photo in their derby attire.
A couple pose for a photo in their derby attire. Jamie Rhodes, USA TODAY Sports
Silhouette of fans making their way through the infield tunnel.
Silhouette of fans making their way through the infield tunnel. Jamie Rhodes, USA TODAY Sports

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