where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2023-08-07 08:34:59  
Star filly breaks down in front of thousands at Saratoga

The world witnessed the catastrophic indicident of Maple Leaf Mel breaking down near the finish line in the Grade 1 Test on Saturday. She was an unbeaten 5 from 5 filly seemingly clear and ready to win the Grade 2 event when she snapped her ankle and was subsequently euthanized. Saratogay released the following statement. Image of her just before breaking down. 

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) is saddened to report that Maple Leaf Mel sustained a catastrophic injury to her right front leg at the finish of Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Test at Saratoga Race Course. Despite the immediate response of on-site veterinarians, the filly was humanely euthanized due to the severity of the injury.

Maple Leaf Mel was ridden by Joel Rosario and trained by Melanie Giddings. Rosario was unseated during the incident and sent to Albany Medical Center for further evaluation and to receive stiches for facial abrasions.

Owned by August Dawn Farm and bred by Joe Fafone, Maple Leaf Mel was undefeated in five previous career starts including stakes victories in the Seeking the Ante last August at Saratoga, the East View in March at Aqueduct Racetrack, the Grade 3 Miss Preakness in May at Pimlico Race Course and, most recently, the Grade 3 Victory Ride on July 8 at Belmont Park. Maple Leaf Mel was previously trained by Jeremiah Englehart and was making her second career start on Saturday for Giddings.

Every horse entered to compete at Saratoga Race Course is required to undergo an extensive pre-race veterinary examination before the horse is permitted to race. In addition to physical inspection and observation, regulatory veterinarians perform a detailed review of each horse’s medical records, past performances and workouts. Maple Leaf Mel passed the required pre-race veterinary inspection in accordance with these well-established protocols.

In the process of investigating this injury, a necropsy will be performed at Cornell University with the results to be analyzed by Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) officials, the New York State Equine Medical Director and NYRA leadership.

“The health and safety of horses and jockeys competing at NYRA tracks is our highest priority and one that stands above all other considerations,” said Pat McKenna, NYRA VP of Communications. “NYRA, HISA and the New York State Gaming Commission will closely review the circumstances around this incident to ensure we are providing the safest possible environment for racing and training at Saratoga Race Course.” 

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