Often forgotten when a horse dies on the racetrack are the people closest to him or her – the grooms, exercise riders and barn staff that provide daily care, understand their personalities and build an attachment to the animals that non-horse lovers will never understand. Toiling behind the scenes in anonymity, these men and women often feel helpless following a tragic death when critics of the sport say horse racing is a cruel game filled with people who don't care.
Social media, however, gives them an opportunity to respond, and one of the connections of Homeboykris, who died of an apparent heart attack shortly after winning Pimlico's first race on the May 21 Preakness card, took to Facebook last week to express her feelings.
Molly Moran is a 27-year-old exercise rider who for eight years has worked for Homeboykris' trainer, Francis Campitelli. A Baltimore native, Moran started taking riding lessons at the age of nine but says she “loved horses by the time I could talk.” Showing and eventing introduced her to off the track Thoroughbreds and that piqued her interest in racing. She began by breaking babies and working with layups, got a job at the Boniface family's Bonita Farm and a short time later was at the track.
Homeboykris, Moran said, was “my strongest horse and was perfect leading up to his race Preakness day. I remember being so sure he would win and I was actually on a pony that day and watching the race from the chute on my pony. I was so excited watching him win, you can only imagine my shock when I got back to the test barn and was told that he had a heart attack on the walk back.”
After a wave of negative publicity about his death and the fatal injury suffered by Pramedya three races later on the May 21 program, Moran addressed the issue on her personal Facebook page. It is printed below with her permission:
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