Racehorse Never Tell Lynda Dies In Freak Accident At Churchill Downs, Sound System Blamed

Racehorse Never Tell Lynda died in a freak accident at Churchill Downs that is being blamed on the track’s new sound system.

The 5-year-old mare was walking toward the paddock when she heard the starting gate bell sound and reared, falling onto her head. The sound was actually part of a commercial that was playing before the race started.

“We teach horses to break from that,” trainer Kenneth Wirth said. “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.”

In a later interview, Wirth recounted how quickly the incident happened:

“Today, we’re walking over, she was walking like a lamb. I said, ‘Boy, she’s really doing good.’ About that time, that commercial came on, the bell rung and she was up. I didn’t think she hit her head that hard, but she sort of twisted and went down. I knew she was dead. I could see it in her eyes. Blood started gushing from her nose and mouth.

“I called the stewards and said they need to do something about that. It’s got to be about the horses. It can’t be all this circus crap…. When they’re endangering the horses, they’ve got to do something.”

Veterinarians saw the fall and rushed to help Never Tell Lynda, but she was too badly injured.

“It was quickly evident that this horse was in the process of expiring,” said Will Farmer, chief racing veterinarian for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. “To ease her suffering, one of our veterinarians euthanized her.”

The horse died before the first race of the day at the same track where weeks ago the Kentucky Derby was held.

After the accident, a Churchill Downs spokesman said the incident was heartbreaking and promised that track officials were looking into the incident.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with her connections,” said track spokesman Darren Rogers. “We’re currently gathering facts and talking with people about what might have led to Never Tell Lynda’s accident…. The health and safety of our human and equine athletes remains our highest priority.”

Even before Never Tell Lynda died, other trainers have raised issues about the volume of the track’s speaker system. Others have complained about horses becoming spooked, but it’s not clear if the track will be making changes. The 170-foot screen cost $12 million and became a major selling point in this year’s Kentucky Derby.

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