The 71st annual Iroquois Steeplechase took place on Saturday, May 12 under what organizers called perfect racing conditions. However, the annual event in Nashville, Tenn. ended in tragedy when the winning horse, Arcadius, collapsed and died instantly.
Although heat is often a concern at this event, veterinarian Monty McInturff said that heat was not a factor this year on a misty, 70-degree afternoon. The cause of death was ruled a heart attack, which is not preventable.
Steeplechasing has earned a poor reputation in other countries where it is more popular. Great Britain’s Grand National has been plagued with an inordinate number of equine deaths over the years, earning annual protests from animal welfare supporters.
The Iroquois has a better safety record, although equine deaths are a part of its history. According to The Tennessean, there have been five deaths in the past 19 years of the race.