Horse dies following accident at B.C. track

BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:45 PM ET

VANCOUVER - The freak death of a horse that ran full-speed into the winner's circle at Hastings Racecourse Saturday cast a pall over the biggest weekend of racing in British Columbia.

Two days before the B.C. Cup stakes races, three-year-old Private Mambo bucked jockey Giovanni Franco off at the starting gate and raced ahead of the field before suddenly veering off the track and into the winner's circle at full speed after 4 p.m.

The Aldergrove-trained horse, co-owned by John Snow and Blair Law, was the morning favourite to win the sixth race but died instantly when it collided with a wood and glass shed. A security guard in the shed was injured and rushed to hospital by paramedics. Franco was uninjured, but a woman was treated on-scene by first aid attendants after being cut with shards of glass.

Howard Blank, a vice-president of track operator Great Canadian Gaming, said the horse passed a pre-race veterinary examination. The cause is unknown, but WorkSafeBC, the provincial Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch and Agriculture Canada will investigate

"The horse was wearing blinkers at the time, the jockey was bucked off and we believe there was some initial light contact with another horse leaving the starting gate,” Blank said. “If there was an injury with the horse immediately, whether something had caused the horse to lose vision, we don’t know the whole circumstances but we want to get to the bottom of it.”

Officials with the Horseman’s Benevolent and Protective Association of B.C. and the provincial Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch cancelled the remaining two races and a crowd, estimated at 4,500, was asked to leave. Blank said counselling was offered to any staff or spectators who were horrified by witnessing the death.

Broken fencing, shattered glass and flowers were strewn on the ground near a lone, black folding chair. A makeshift white tarp was placed over part of the shed, partially obscuring a melted ice cream cone. The shed itself was leaning at an angle.

Injuries could have been far worse. Spectator Donnie Gorospe was among hundreds of people at track level. He was standing 10 feet away from the winner’s circle when the incident happened.

“The horse was wild, I don’t know why,” Gorospe said. “I was so nervous. The impact was really hard.”

He said the injured man was unconscious and the horse was motionless, lying on its left side.


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