NORTHFIELD, Ohio — A harness racing horse drowned after completing an event at MGM Northfield Park on Monday evening.
According to Freddie Hudson, CEO of the U.S. Harness Racing Alumni Association, the horse "Alfred Hanover" had just finished second in the second race of the night. Handlers were unhooking the horse from the race bike when a nearby truck scared him. The 2-year-old horse then broke away, running into a nearby pond and drowning.
"Several people did attempt to get to the horse," said Keith Gisser, a racehorse owner and columnist. "They just weren't able to get him out of the water. He's a 1,500 pound animal."
“We are deeply saddened by racehorse Alfred Hanover’s passing and extend our condolences to his owner, trainer and all involved,” said Matt Buckley, General Manager of MGM Northfield Park, in a statement.
Monday's event was not the first time than an incident like this happened at Northfield Park. In 2019, another horse drowned under similar circumstances. Just last year, a young trotter, "Creatine Star," nearly lost his life in a similar fashion at Northfield, but was rescued in time.
In a statement to 3News, Marty Irby, executive director of Animal Wellness Action, encouraged MGM Northfield Park to support recently passed legislation that went into effect last week.
"We are saddened to see yet another racehorse death in the world of harness racing and call on the U.S. Trotting Association and its members to join in supporting the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act that took effect last week by opting into the anti-doping program, and oversight under the new national standards," said Irby. "As the body count continues to climb, these rampant deaths continue to turn the betting public away from the horse racing industry. Where else would we tolerate any athlete drowning during a sporting event without a serious investigation? The authorities should investigate this incident."
According to MGM Northfield Park officials, a fence around the water retention pond is set to be finished next week. Hudson shared video with 3News of work on a temporary fence being done on Wednesday.
At this time, MGM officials say they are working directly with the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association and Ohio Racing on this drowning.
Harness racing was set to resume at MGM Northfield Park on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
This is a developing story. Stay with 3News for more details as they become available.