BANGOR, Maine — A state harness racing official has banned dogs from the stable and paddock areas at Bangor Raceway after a horse that was spooked by a dog there Sunday hurt itself and died from internal injuries.
The prohibition, put into place Monday by state racing steward Ralph Canney, took effect immediately, according to George McHale, chairman of the Maine Harness Racing Commission. Until now, dogs had been allowed near the horses stabled at the track as a matter of unofficial policy, McHale said.
Canney, who was at the racetrack Sunday, is in the process of gathering more information about the incident and is slated to present his findings to harness racing commission members during their next regular meeting, set for 12:30 p.m. Wednesday in Augusta.
According to McHale, the dog ban was prompted by the death Sunday of Rich Camelot, an 8-year-old brown Standardbred gelding owned by Gardner Patterson, a writer and retired educator who lives on Verona Island.
Though McHale said he was not at the Bangor racetrack on Sunday, he said Canney confirmed to him that Rich Camelot had just completed a training jog around the dirt half-mile oval when he was attacked by a dog that was new to the track.
The attack apparently spooked the horse, which was still attached to a sulky because he had just completed a training jog. The horse then bolted from the stable area and struck a Dumpster, injuring himself, before he could be captured and brought back to the barns, McHale said.
Patterson said Monday that he had heard a similar account of what transpired.
McHale said the horse was examined by state veterinarian Timothy Powers, who administered medical treatment.
“The horse appeared to be responding to the first aid but then died,” McHale said. Because the horse’s death was attributed to internal injuries suffered in Sunday’s incident, McHale said, a necropsy was deemed unnecessary.
“It seems to be an unfortunate accident,” Canney said in a brief statement issued Monday through McHale. Additional information about the dog, which McHale said “was not a very large one,” or his owner was not available Monday.
Patterson, contacted Monday evening at his home, was deeply saddened by the death of his horse, one of two that he had stabled at Bangor. The other is Kryo Down, a 9-year-old bay gelding.
“He was a very fine animal. It just about broke my heart,” Patterson said. “It’s been terrible for me. I’ve been around harness racing for about 40 years and it’s been quite a blow to me.”
“This was a very special horse, a very good racer. I would say he was one of the top horses in Maine,” said Paterson, who has owned as many as six horses at times and who once handled publicity for the Bangor racetrack.
“The track [owned by the city of Bangor and operated by Penn National Gaming Inc.] is looking into insurance,” Patterson said.
Though he declined to discuss the horse’s exact purchase price, Patterson did say he paid between $20,000 and $30,000 for the gelding.
Though Corey Smith, the track’s director of raceway operations was not available Monday and horsemen there were tight-lipped about the incident, harness racing documents associated with Rich Camelot show that Rich Camelot’s trainer was Sean Nye and that his driver was Shawn Gray.
Nye declined to comment on the matter when contacted Monday at his Bangor Raceway stable.
According to Patterson, Rich Camelot racked up more than $20,000 in winnings over 18 starts during last year’s harness racing season.
Rich Camelot’s most recent win was on Friday, when he took first place in the eighth race, which offered a $5,000 purse, at Bangor Raceway. The pacer’s winning time was 1:57.1, according to harness racing results published in the weekend edition of the Bangor Daily News.