Horse Dies Before Traditional Italian Race

An Italian racehorse died July 1 during a practice session for the Palio di Siena horse race that takes place near Tuscany, according to a report from the United Kingdom-based news website Mail Online.

The Palio di Siena is a bareback horse race run twice a year during the summer (in July and August) around the main square of Siena. The horses run on a layer of dirt that is put down as extra cushion for the cobblestone surface. The Palio consists of three laps around the track, with spectators watching from inside the circle.

The Mail Online report indicates that an 8-year-old gelding named Messi was taking part in a practice session with jockey Antonio Villelli when he crashed into a barrier on a "notorious curve."

"Officials said the horse hit the barrier at the 'San Martino bend' on its second lap around the square and then limped for several feet before collapsing in front of the town hall," the report stated.

Messi reportedly received immediate attention from veterinarians who rushed him to a clinic, but the horse later died at the veterinary clinic. Reports indicate that he suffered a catastrophic cardiac event; however, no further information was available at press time.

Italian equine activists have reportedly been lobbying against the historic race for years, and Mail Online reports that 50 horses have died in connection with the race since 1970.

The July race will take place as scheduled tomorrow (July 2), the report noted.

About the Author

Erica Larson, News Editor

Erica Larson, news editor, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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