Livescore Thursday, April 25

The trainer of two horses that died at Belmont Park – home of the Belmont Stakes – said he has been left “heartbroken” and “devastated” by the news.

Mark A. Hennig told CNN that both his horses, Mashnee Girl and Excursionniste, had been healthy heading into their respective races at the weekend but both suffered fatal injuries less than 24 hours apart.

In the first race at Belmont Park on Sunday, Mashnee Girl fell near the quarter pole, according to industry-owned database Equibase, before being euthanized on the track.

It follows the death of Excursionniste on Saturday, in the 13th and final race of the day, which took place after the prestigious Belmont Stakes – a race won by Arcangelo.

The horse suffered an injury leaving the backstretch, was pulled up, and euthanized on the grass track, according to Equibase.

“We always put the horse first and I have a clear conscience that we brought very sound individuals to run this weekend,” Hennig said in a statement to CNN.

“Thank God that both riders were not injured. I spoke to both of them and they both told me how well the horses were travelling under them, before taking a tragic bad step.”

At Belmont Park, New York, four horses died while racing or training in the period from May 13 to Saturday’s Belmont Stakes.

“The main dirt track and both turf courses are inspected before, during and after each race day,” New York Racing Association (NYRA) spokesman Pat McKenna said in a statement after the latest deaths, adding that the injuries were being investigated.

“Data and soil samples are then shared with independent engineers, who evaluate the condition and consistency of each surface. Our review has found all three racing surfaces to be consistent throughout with no anomalies.

“NYRA’s comprehensive safety strategy is informed by the most advanced science and research in consultation with independent experts, veterinarians, and horsemen.

“The health and safety of horses and jockeys competing at NYRA tracks is our highest priority and one that stands above all other considerations.”

The news comes in the wake of a series of unexpected deaths at prestigious racetracks that have shaken the world of horse racing.

The owner of Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, announced last week that it would suspend racing operations to conduct a “top-to-bottom” review of all safety and surface protocols following the deaths of 12 horses at the racetrack.

The racetrack said it was “troubled” by the deaths. There is no clear cause linking the deaths, according to Churchill Downs.

In the wake of the most recent deaths, Kathy Guillermo, senior vice president of PETA, said in a statement on the animal rights organization’s website: “Two dead Thoroughbreds in two days with the same trainer on the same track means one thing: Belmont Park is failing to protect horses.

“Like Churchill Downs, Belmont must suspend racing immediately to avoid the same bloodbath. Anything less makes Belmont complicit in the fatalities.”

In his statement, Hennig said he “desperately” wanted answers regarding the death of his horses but trusted that organiser NYRA was doing its due diligence and examining the course “to ensure maximum safety going forward.”

“We all adore our horses and will continue to insure that our horses are loved and cared for. Thank you to my owners for their unwavering confidence and support,” he said.

“Thank you to all that have reached out to us, to give their support, in this unimaginable bad time. We will continue to grieve and pray over the loss of these two beautiful horses.”

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