A maiden runner's unscheduled detour made headlines on Sunday when he apparently escaped the Turfway Park track and went running through the streets of Florence, Kentucky.
Officials say the horse, Joseph the Catfish, who was making his first start, has only one eye, which may explain his visibly stressed demeanor before and during the race. The 3-year-old son of Mineshaft ditched Eddie Zuniga at the quarter pole and leapt a barrier into the horsemen's parking lot.
Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Steward Barbara Borden says patrons and Turfway officials alike pulled together to try to wrangle the frightened colt.
“He was chased by outriders on their ponies, the trainer, who had commandeered a vehicle with a patron driving (yelling “Follow that horse!”), also KHRC veterinarians (in the Kubota) and others on foot,” said Borden.
Although original reports of the horse's route were unclear, Borden said he whizzed through traffic lights and past vehicles on Houston Road (“with all traffic lights changing in his favor”), and got as far as the ramp to southbound I-75, where he attempted to load onto the interstate about a mile from the track.
That was when Turfway starter Steve Peterman apprehended the colt, bringing them both crashing to the pavement. A stunned Joseph the Catfish got a ride to the test barn in the horse ambulance, where Racing Commission vets treated his abrasions, since there wasn't a willing private vet to be found on the backstretch.
Owner/trainer Emilie Fojan reported Monday that after a trip to a Lexington clinic, “Joe” is recovering at the farm and was lucky to have suffered only minor injuries.
“She credits Joe's safe return to the help and dedication of the Turfway outriders and gate crew, many concerned horsemen that lent a hand, and the KHRC veterinarians who stayed involved in the chase and follow up medical attention, and she asked that I extend her thanks and gratitude to all those that were involved,” said Borden.
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