The 3-year-old filly Lavender Road, a late scratch from the seventh race at Saratoga Race Course on Wednesday, was hospitalized after collapsing near the clubhouse and repeatedly failing to stay on her feet.
She was diagnosed with heatstroke and some head trauma, but a full body X-ray at the nearby Rood & Riddle veterinary clinic showed no broken bones and she was listed in stable condition, trainer Abby Adsit said.
The incident caused an hour delay to the start of the eighth race while Dr. Anthony Verderosa, the New York Racing Association’s chief examining veterinarian, Adsit and other track personnel tried to get Lavender Road on her feet so she could walk onto a waiting horse van.
She was in the horse path leading from the paddock to the track when she succumbed the first time, then came to, bucked and fell again, hitting her head on a padded part of the rail. Lavender Road ended up back on the track just in front of the At the Rail Pavilion, where she got to her feet 10 times, only to fall back on her side.
She was continually hosed and iced down before the decision was made to tranquilize her and pull her onto the van on a mat.
“It’s been a long day,” said Adsit, a 2009 Union College graduate who took out her head trainer’s license last winter.
“When a horse is stressed, that induces heatstroke, then they have no control of themselves. She blacked out, then kept going up and down.”
Lavender Road first showed signs of trouble when jockey Junior Alvarado, who rode her to victory in her last start at Belmont Park, got her onto the track for warmup.
He asked the vet to check on Lavender Road, and she was scratched. Before she made it back to Adsit’s barn at Saratoga Raceway across Nelson Avenue, Lavender Road fell in the horse path.
“Junior said the horse didn’t feel right, she was tying up, cramping up,” Adsit said. “Junior has ridden her before, so he knows her. When they get stressed like that, it can induce heatstroke. It’s an internal thing, it has nothing to do with the external temperature.
“They wanted to give her every chance to get up. It’s not an easy decision to make. You hope that she brings herself out of it, then you make the decision that enough’s enough.”
The horses in the paddock for the eighth race, meanwhile, had to cool their heels waiting to get on the track. Their race went off at 5:03, 53 minutes after the scheduled post.
“Actually, everyone handled it really well,” said trainer Graham Motion, whose filly, Hobe Wins, ran in the eighth. “The fillies were amazing, nobody really got shook up, even the people. It all went pretty smoothly. It was just a very unusual, unique situation.”
Motion said he was actually more worried about his filly Stars Above Me, who was entered in the ninth race, the Coronation Cup, and had to spend extra time in the holding barn.
She ended up winning the Coronation Cup.
Stars Above Me was making her first start in the U.S. after racing in Great Britain.
She rallied on the outside under Irad Ortiz Jr. to win the Coronation Cup by 21⁄4 lengths.
“We’ve kind of had to do a crash course,” Motion said. “We’ve only had her two weeks, but we did get a chance to breeze her over the Oklahoma. She is pretty wound up in the morning, as you can see by the way she runs.”