Track's Loud Sound System Killed My Horse: Trainer

Mare got startled by commercial at Churchill Downs, he says

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted May 23, 2014 12:47 PM CDT

(Newser) – A 5-year-old mare died in a freak fall at Churchill Downs yesterday, and its trainer blames the track's massive new sound system, reports AP. Kenny Wirth says the horse, Never Tell Lynda, was being led to the paddock before the day's first race when a commercial began blaring over the 750-speaker sound system. That commercial just happened to feature the sound of a starting gate bell, and the horse reacted accordingly.

"We teach horses to break from that," says Wirth. "And you've got it on a loud speaker that everybody in a two-city block can hear. Well, what's she going to do? She thinks she's supposed to take off. And that's what she did. And when she did, she lunged and she lost her balance and went down." An official with Kentucky's horse racing commission says it has received similar complaints about the $12 million video board, which got put into place before this year's Kentucky Derby, and raised them with track management after the accident. "They're aware of it," she tells USA Today. "They're going to try to correct it immediately." A spokesman for Churchill Downs says the track is still "gathering facts" about the incident.

A new video screen is seen at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
A new video screen is seen at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.   (AP Photo/Garry Jones)
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