Death of Mongolian Groom in Breeders' Cup could have been prevented

John Cherwa, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Horse Racing

LOS ANGELES -- The death of Mongolian Groom in the $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 2 could have been prevented, according to a report released Wednesday by the Breeders' Cup.

The report said that 253 horses were evaluated several times and that 24 horses were scratched either in the Breeders' Cup races or on the undercard of the two-day event out of concern that they weren't in safe racing condition.

"The examining veterinarians made the right call on 252 horses," the report said. "That is a 99.6% accuracy rate. The decision was wrong on only one horse: Mongolian Groom."

The 25-page report was headed by Dr. Larry Bramlage, a nationally known and respected veterinarian at the Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky.

The 4-year-old gelding was competitive during most of the race, sitting just off the lead. When he entered the stretch, jockey Abel Cedillo pulled him up. The horse was vanned off and euthanized. For horsemen, the Breeders' Cup Classic is the most important race of the year and can lead to horse-of-the-year honors. The Kentucky Derby is the biggest race for the general public, but is restricted to 3-year-olds.

Mongolian Groom was not scheduled to be in the Classic until he pulled an upset in the Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita.


He was one of 24 horses that were tagged for "extra scrutiny." He was examined by five different veterinarians on the track on five different days and three different veterinarians on six different days in the barn.

He was on an informal "watch list" for added observation. Veterinarian comments were entered on four other unidentified horses in the Classic.

"These were the best horses from the racing season in 2019," the report said. "They had earned some soreness and it is a tough assessment as to whether a horse is actually lame or just had routine soreness from a long season."

No veterinarians were named in the investigation, which also exonerated the Santa Anita track surface as playing any role in Mongolian Groom's death. It was also said that pre- and post-race toxicology showed no prohibitive substances or medication overages.


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