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First Mission scratched from Preakness over vet concern: ‘It’s unfortunate’

First Mission, one of the early favorites of the Preakness Stakes, has been scratched from the second leg of the Triple Crown following concern over a potential ankle issue, officials said Friday. 

The announcement came just 36 hours ahead of the Preakness after vets at the Pimlico Race Course became concerned about an “unspecified left hind ankle issue,” the Maryland Jockey Club said in a press release early Friday morning. 

“There was just a little concern by the 1/ST racing veterinarian team,” Godolphin USA bloodstock director Michael Banahan said in a statement provided by the Maryland Jockey Club. 

HORSE EUTHANIZED AT CHURCHILL DOWNS AFTER BROKEN LEG; BECOMES 8TH THOROUGHBRED TO DIE AT TRACK IN LAST 2 WEEKS

“They thought maybe it was a minor issue with the left hind ankle. You just really couldn’t do proper diagnostics onsite, on the track,” Banahan said, adding that the horse had been taken to a hospital in Lexington for further evaluation. 

​​”It’s unfortunate, but we know he’s a very talented horse, and I’m sure we’ll have big days down the road with him.”

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First Mission was the second favorite heading into the race this weekend, with Kentucky Derby winner, Mage, still the overall favorite to win with 8–5 odds. 

Friday’s news comes just days after another horse was euthanized at Churchill Downs following a leg injury. It was the eighth horse to die in the last two weeks at the famous racetrack – seven died in the lead-up to the Kentucky Derby. 

The number of deaths has prompted groups like PETA to call for stronger protocols to ensure the safety of the animals. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

 

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