01/09/2015 2:46PM

Aqueduct cuts short Friday card; two horses injured

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Racing was canceled Friday at Aqueduct following the second race after two horses broke down and jockeys complained of blowing snow and some ice particles in the track.

It was the third cancellation of the week after Wednesday’s and Thursday’s cards were scrapped due to extreme cold.

Two horses broke down - one fatally - during Friday’s second race. Apex, a 5-year-old gelding, fell entering the far turn of the six-furlong starter-allowance race. Apex, making his first start off the claim by Steve Klesaris, unseated jockey Angel Arroyo and proceeded to run until the three-sixteenths pole. He was found to have a fractured left front ankle and had to be euthanized on track.

Angel Arroyo, the rider of Apex, was taken to first-aid, and was just a bit dizzy, according to first-aid personnel. Arroyo was released, though he will have to be cleared by doctors in order to ride on Saturday.

Italian Rules, a 10-year-old son of Tribal Rule making his 40th career start and third in 30 days, was pulled up about three-sixteenths of a mile into the race by jockey Andre Worrie. Italian Rules, who had won five of his last seven starts, had a boot placed on his right foreleg and was vanned off.

Naipaul Chatterpaul, the trainer of Italian Rules, said he believes the horse has a torn right front suspensory that while career-ending was not deemed life-threatening.

“He won’t be fine to race again, but he should be fine to ride around in someone’s backyard,” Chatterpaul said.

The wind picked up during the day, and was blowing snow from the turf course into the faces of the jockeys, making for a potentially dangerous situation.

Junior Alvarado, who didn’t ride either of the first two races, said that one rider came back from the first race with his goggles “completely broken” due to kickback.

Alvarado said that jockeys who rode the second race complained of the winds.

“Every horse was five to six wide, and it’s not really safe to ride like that,” Alvarado said.

Apex is the 11th racing-related fatality in 20 days of racing since the inner track opened on Dec. 3. Nine of those horses were euthanized. One died from a broken neck suffered in a spill, another from a cardiovascular collapse.

The high fatality rate this winter brings back memories of 2011-12 when there 21 equine fatalities during the inner-track meet. Horsemen have not complained that the inner tack is unsafe, and no one is sure why this winter's injury rate is so high.

“I can’t say I blame the racetrack," said trainer Rick Violette, president of the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, who has horses stabled at Aqueduct. "I haven’t had an issue, little or big. None of the people with substantial horses over here think it’s the racetrack.”