08/11/2012 3:04PM

Del Mar: Stewards set hearing on disputed claim of euthanized horse

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DEL MAR, Calif. – The disputed claim of Elivette, who was euthanized after suffering catastrophic injuries following a race at Del Mar on Aug. 3, will be the subject of a hearing by Del Mar’s stewards, representing the California Horse Racing Board, on Aug. 22, a board spokesman confirmed Saturday.

Elivette, a 3-year-old filly, broke both sesamoid bones in a front leg during the running of the final race that day. After being transported off the track in a horse ambulance, she was subsequently euthanized. According to a new racing board rule enacted earlier this year, had Elivette been euthanized on the track, the claim – for $12,500 – would have been voided. But since she was euthanized minutes later off the racecourse, the claim went through.

Steve Rothblum, acting as stable manager for Demitrius Xanthos’s Fortuna Ranch Racing – which claimed Elivette – filed a protest with the racing board regarding the claim, believing the claim should not have gone through because the injuries resulted in Elivette being euthanized.

Jerry Hollendorfer trained Elivette for the race, and Doug O’Neill would have been her new trainer.

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The Thoroughbred Owners of California this past week called for a suspension of the new rule until it is modified. Prior to this new rule, horses were considered claimed by new connections as soon as they broke from the gate of their race.

Dr. Ryan Carpenter, the private veterinarian who took radiographs of Elivette’s injured limb minutes after the race, said that although “the rule has good intentions,” he believes “there’s too many gray areas, and until they are addressed, it’s best to go back” to the old rule.

Carpenter said Elivette had “complete displacement of the suspensory apparatus” in her injured limb. He said for Elivette to have survived, she would have needed surgery similar to what Barbaro had after he was severely injured in the 2006 Preakness Stakes. Barbaro injured a hind leg, whereas Elivette injured a front leg.

“We don’t do those surgeries very often,” said Carpenter, who is a surgeon. “They’re very involved and they’re very expensive, and there’s a wide variety of complications. You have to make a decision that’s in the best interests of the horse.”

Carpenter said it is best for the state vet to not, in his words, “have to make a snap decision” regarding euthanization on the racetrack, but he believes the spirit of the rule should protect claimants if a horse suffers a catastrophic injury, regardless of whether the horse is euthanized on the track or minutes later.