Hajji's Treasure, winner of the California Derby, was taken to the New Bolton Medical Center in Kennett Square, Pa., with a broken right front leg and a possible fracture of his left knee after today's running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.
"I just want to take my colt back to California," said owner Stan Hodge. "I don't want to take home a dead horse."
Hajji's Treasure, ridden by Joe Judice, was running well for the first quarter of a mile in third position on the outside. When he straightened for the backstretch, he bobbled and dropped back.
Local veterinarians were rushed to his side on the track and a police escort was provided for the trip to the New Bolton facility, where the latest techniques in equine medicine are available.
Hodge said that immediately after the race, Hajji's Treasure was given a 10 percent chance of survival, but added, "That's much higher now."
Hodge said he did not plan to travel to the hospital. "I don't know what I can do. I'd probably cry most of the evening so I'll stay here," he said.
Hajji's Treasure earned $181,430 with three wins in 11 career starts. He is the first horse to break down in the Preakness since Statesman in 1909.
A mishap at the starting gate can cost a horse, especially a speed horse, a race. So for a starter, a smooth, nothing-out-of-the-ordinary day is the goal.
The goal for Pimlico starter Eric Blind and his nine assistants was to have all 11 horses come away from the gate straight and as one.
One moment of eerie silence and the button that triggers the battery-powered stall doors was pressed and the field bounded down the Pimlico stretch in an almost-perfect line.
Relaxing afterward, Blind said, "Our job is done. We've prepared for any eventuality, but you never know. When you have nightmares, you dream that the field comes out in sections with the favorite absolutely (last)."