Trainer speaks after horse killed in freak accident at Churchill Downs

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by Brooke Hasch

WHAS11.com

Posted on May 23, 2014 at 12:17 PM

Updated Friday, May 23 at 3:14 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- An emotional Kenny Mirth still feels the pain after losing his pride horse Thursday afternoon to a freak accident on the track at Churchill Downs.

"I love this fillie and...I'm going to get teared up," Mirth said.

He gave his first on camera interview to WHAS 11's Brooke Hasch Friday.

"She was sort of my hopes," Mirth said.

The trainer had just acquired his fifth horse back in January. He said the 5-year-old mare called, Never Tell Lynda, had a bright future on the track.

"People were always telling me how good of a job I did with her," Mirth said.

Mirth was schooling the horse near the paddock at Churchill Downs Thursday when Never Tell Lynda was jolted by a bell, usually heard at the start of the race, but instead rang from the loud speakers, as part of a promotional video for Churchill.

"The gate bell rang and she jumped and fell down and I knew she was going to die pretty quickly, because she was bleeding from the nose," Mirth said.

Never Tell Lynda was euthanized moments later.

Mirth said this wasn't the first time his horse had been spooked by the same bell ringing over the loud speakers. Mirth said other jockeys have also complained about the loud noises.

"That's what we teach them to break from: The bell rings when the gates open. And they play that over the loud speaker?" Mirth questioned.

Mirth said the mare's death was unfortunate and preventable. But he's hopeful change will come from his tragedy.

"Sometimes they gotta think about the horse. It's not a nightclub. I know it's a business, but we're here because of the horses. They're putting on a show. I don't want this to be negative. I just hope they do something, so this doesn't happen again," Mirth said.

Churchill Downs released a statement on the incident Thursday, saying:

"The Churchill Downs Racetrack family is overcome and saddened by Never Tell Lynda's tragic schooling accident Thursday afternoon....We're currently gathering facts and talking with people about what might have led to Never Tell Lynda's accident on the way to the paddock prior to the first race. The health and safety of our human and equine athletes remains our highest priority."

They denied further comments the next day.

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