Ohio racing officials investigate horse drowning on track

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MGM Northfield

Ohio racing officials have reportedly launched an investigation after a standard-bred horse racing at an Ohio harness track this week drowned in an indoor pond after escaping after a race.

The crash happened Monday night at MGM Northfield Park near Cleveland.

Alfred Hanover placed second in the second race that night, then escaped near the pond.

“While they were unhooking the horse from the racing bike, the horse got loose and then left and ran into the pond with all of its gear and they couldn’t reach the horse, and the horse ran off. is drowned,” Freddie Hudson of the US Harness Racing Alumni Association told Cleveland.com.

The rest of Northfield’s 15-race Monday card was canceled after the second race.

Alfred Hanover, 2, was coached by Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame member Ron Burke.

According to Reuters, Hudson told Cleveland’s WKYC-TV that dog handlers were unhooking the horse from the sulky when a nearby tractor scared him and he ran into the pond.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of racehorse Alfred Hanover and send our condolences to his owner, trainer and everyone involved,” Northfield Park general manager Matt Buckley said in a statement.

Marty Irby, executive director of Animal Wellness Action, told Reuters that no fence or barrier existed between the racetrack and the pond. Irby said the track started fencing on Wednesday.

“Where else would we tolerate the drowning of an athlete at a sporting event without serious investigation?” Irby told Reuters. “Authorities should investigate this incident and MGM Northfield should raise its standards to protect the horses at all costs.”

It was not the first time such an incident had occurred at Northfield. In 2021, a horse was saved from drowning after breaking free and running in the pond before a race.

At another Ohio racetrack, Miami Valley, a harnessed horse drowned in an on-site pond after escaping during a race in 2019.

On Tuesday, the Ohio State Racing Commission told WJW-TV in Cleveland that it is investigating Monday’s incident.

“We have also spoken with the Northfield management team to better understand the circumstances of exactly how the incident occurred and what steps are being taken to prevent this type of occurrence in the future.”

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