Horse drops dead during race at Charlottetown Driving Park

Nigel Armstrong
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FILE PHOTO: Horses go by the historic judges stand at the CDP.

Northern Zoom paces strong in the second race but drops to track at the top of the home stretch

A horse fell dead on the track as it rounded into the home stretch at the Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park Thursday.

Northern Zoom, or Zoom as he was known, was in the two-hole coming off the final turn in race 2 of the evening card when he dropped dead.

Ken Murphy was in the bike for owner Margaret Younker who was leaning on the fence watching in horror as events unfolded right in front of her.

"He was strong coming around, not a problem, but he just went down, boom," said Younker. "He was perfectly fine until he hit that turn."

She lives right next door to trainer Clifford Murphy of Brackley who was with her in the track barn after the death. A sense of mourning prevailed

"I raised him,” said Younker. "I have had horses for 30 some years."

The suspicion is that a heart attack took the horse's life.

"He looked like he was going to win the whole thing," said Murphy.

Zoom wore the usual tongue tie used during a race to prevent accidental airway blockage, said Younker.

"He was well trained, he was well exercised, he was well fed, and we don't use any drugs in this barn so we are not worried about any interference that way," she said.

The horse was covered and removed by trailer to the Atlantic Veterinary Collage for a postmortem examination, or necropsy.

Murphy said he cannot remember the last time a horse died during a race. It has never happened to his horses before.

"Everybody did the right thing and everything was looked after and hopefully we will find out what happened," said Murphy.

Officials with Red Shores said they were not able to comment and media inquires are to be directed to Atlantic Lottery headquarters in Moncton. It will not be fully briefed on the incident until later tonight, The Guardian was told.

Organizations: Red Shores-Charlottetown Driving Park Thursday.Northern Zoom

Geographic location: Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • Horseman211
    September 06, 2014 - 17:21

    People have died from heart attacks playing hockey. I don't suggest they were on drugs, but when I read some of the posts here I wonder about the authors... A horse has died racing and that is a sad event. People die on the road but we don't ban driving. People die in air crashes but we don't ban air travel. Kenny and Margaret are among harness racing's best participants - both of them - and to them, the best interest of the horse is always first in their minds at all times. Canadian icon Gilles Villeneuve died doing what he loved - racing cars... so did Ayrton Senna and Dale Earnhardt. Bill Masterton died shortly after playing a game of hockey for the North Stars in the NHL. It happens... You can play the roles of judge, jury, executioner before test results are known, but I feel sorry for YOU. If I ever go to court I want a judge who doesn't make decisions without getting the facts, first.

  • Horse Owner
    September 06, 2014 - 14:20

    "Horses have no choice! Should I say more?" Someone that says something like the statement above simply doesn't understand. Imagine if you were born into a family of competitive runners. And your parents were born into a family of competitive runners (often champions too!) and so on and so on for hundreds of years. What do you think your propensity would be towards? Playing the violin?? Chances are you too would want to run. That's what these animals are born to do. It's in their genes. The vast majority love it. The sport is chalk full of fast eager horses. However, yes, there are some that don't enjoy it. But it's very rare now a days. The breed has developed so far from its wild form. Horses that don't enjoy racing are out of it quickly because they can't compete with all the eager ones out there. (Or it could be that they are forced out of racing by their trainer before they even have their first race!) Can you imagine the expense involved in racing an animal that doesn't want to compete?

  • Randy
    September 05, 2014 - 17:57

    Horses have no choice!Should I say more?

  • Race owner
    September 05, 2014 - 17:20

    Horse are just like young atheles who have heart attacks it sad but it can happened they are conditions to the best of trainers ablity . The number young atheltes having heart attacks has increase but we do not ban sports . Anyone hwo thinks these horses are not love and horsemen do not ake it very ahrd when they loose one is very wrong .

  • Bob Macdonald
    September 05, 2014 - 14:35

    This is a horrible sport... needless for entertainment this sport should be shut down... let the old men run around the track.. get whipped, juiced etc... BAN THIS SPORT..

    • -
      September 05, 2014 - 17:28

      FYI many if not most horses enjoy races and are excited to go to the track. It is in their blood to race. As far as a horse dropping on the track it can very easily happen for the horse trying to over exert itself as that also happens with people all the time. Of course there are some bad people out there that treat horses unfairly just like there are bad people that treat their children unfairly or there pets. To say the sport should be banned is not only an unfair comment but an uneducated one. Anyone involved in the industry knows how much a horse appreciates going to race and how excited they are to be there. Of course some do not but they are usually given to someone else for non racing purposes. If there was something in the paper about a guy having a heart attack from a marathon nobody would dare say ban marathons!!! Such silly comments!!!

  • Joe Blow
    September 05, 2014 - 12:07

    The Guardian is making a much bigger deal out of this than it needs to. This kind of thing happens all the time at all racetracks. This article should have never been written to be truthful. Its as if they are trying to give the CDP a bad name or something.

    • ajax
      September 05, 2014 - 14:02

      The CDP has had a bad name for a long time.

  • Stan Hope
    September 05, 2014 - 09:24

    This is very sad however I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often.From someone who admittedly knows little about the industry it seems to me these beautiful animals are pushed to the limit each and every race.Condolences to the owners and trainers.

  • leah leblanc
    September 05, 2014 - 07:48

    I guess they were not there last spring when Mach Raisor dropped dead at the same spot during a does happen...shame..

  • JC
    September 04, 2014 - 21:51

    I believe this happened once last year. A horse dropped just as they were coming up to the starting line behind the post gate.