01/19/2013 3:22PM

New York Racing Association sued for negligence by horse owner


An owner of a filly who was euthanized last summer at Belmont Park is suing the New York Racing Association for negligent actions he believes contributed to the fatal injuries the horse sustained during the running of a race.

Jacob Haddad is seeking damages “in excess of $500,000” for NYRA’s failure to put in place adequate safety protocols that he believes contributed to the death of the 3-year-old filly Salsa Mambo in the ninth race on the July 15 closing-day card at Belmont.

The suit alleges that there was not an appropriate safety rail separating the inner turf course from the outer turf course. Additionally, the suit alleges the actions of an outrider, Althea Roy, attempting to apprehend the horse were “unwarranted, irresponsible, and dangerous.”

In the race in question, in which she was being offered for a $75,000 claiming tag, Salsa Mambo unseated her rider, Cornelio Velasquez, leaving the starting gate and ran free, rider-less, around the inner turf course, well behind the field.

As an outrider sped to Salsa Mambo in attempt to catch her, the filly crashed through the inner rail of the outer turf course. Salsa Mambo is then believed to have attempted to jump over a bush and, the suit alleges, she stepped on a well head or sprinkler head or a metal plate that covers them.

Salsa Mambo suffered a condylar fracture to her left foreleg and had to be euthanized on track.

The suit, filed Dec. 28 in Supreme Court in Queens County by attorney Andrew Mollica, contends that “NYRA negligently, carelessly, and unskillfully failed to discharge its mandated duty to safely manage the conduct of racing and specifically the safety of competing horses, during the race in issue.”

Further, the suit contends that NYRA’s outriders as a whole are “not trained and skilled to the necessary level, much less adequately supervised, or periodically monitored to assess their abilities to properly perform the duties of protecting the safety of horses and riders on-track.”

NYRA, through its spokeswoman Ashley Herriman, declined to comment on the suit.

“The basic premise is about horse safety,” Mollica said. “The owners are adamant to bring this suit to light.”

The suit places the value of Salsa Mambo “in excess of $500,000” claiming Haddad lost out on potential future purse earnings as well her residual value as a broodmare and broodmare prospect.

Salsa Mambo was by Include out of the Mr. Greeley mare Miss Special Salsa. She was purchased for $35,000 as a 2-year-old at the April 2011 OBS sale of 2-year-olds in training. She had 1 victory from 9 starts and earned $42,342.

Brigitte de Saint Phalle More than 1 year ago
I'm very sad his filly died, terrible for her connections. But is this lawsuit about horse safety? The filly obviously didn't behave as the outrider expected, with tragic results, but then unseating Cornelio Velazquez wasn't what anyone expected either. Velazquez could have been fatally injured. Should the owner and trainer be liable for her behavior? What about the potential danger a loose horse on track represents? Is her owner influended by a lawyer trying to take advantage of the attacks on NYRA to collect a settlement because NYRA fears more bad publicity? Really, $500,000 for a $35,000 filly based on what she might have won and what he thinks she might have been worth should be a losing proposition. As it played out she was worth what he insured her for, poor kid.
Bau Ho More than 1 year ago
Senseless law suit. This guy blamed someone who risked a life to retrieve his horse. I think New York should institute a policy that if a horse looses, requires the owner to retrieve the horse.