Never Tell Lynda Bangs Head and Dies at Churchill

Yesterday afternoon at Churchill Downs, Never Tell Lynda died after banging her head prior to the 1st race. Apparently, the 5-year-old mare was spooked by a loud commercial, including the sound of a gate bell, on the track’s giant screen. The Courier-Journal reports that the horse “reared, twisted and fell backward.” When it became clear that she was dying, a vet helped her along. Says trainer Kenny Wirth: “I knew she was dead. I could see it in her eyes. Blood started gushing from her nose and mouth.”

Churchill Downs, of course, “extend[s] [its] deepest sympathy to trainer Kenny Wirth and everyone at the stable for their loss.” Pity the poor trainer, for apparently he’s in the midst of a rough patch: “I’ve had nothing but bad luck since I got up here. My one horse blowed a suspensory (ligament). Then I had a filly run a couple of weeks ago and she slab-fractured a knee. (Never Tell Lynda) was my hope.”

Interestingly, in Never Tell Lynda’s penultimate start back in November (at Churchill), she “broke in the air and was awkward into stride, [and] pulled up before going a quarter mile.” Officially, a DNF.


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  1. I guess she was in the gate when it happened? Why are they playing loud commercials with digital audio on that gigantic new Jumbotron when the horses are loading? On Oaks Day, Empress of Midway completely flipped onto her back in the starting gate and had to be scratched. Thankfully she was not physically hurt. This new screen may be fun for the people in the nosebleed grandstand but it is proving to be terrifying to horses. If one thought about the horses for even one minute, one could have assessed this. Again,racing puts the horses last. This “upgrade” was terribly wrong. .

  2. Are the people who make such decisions ignorant concerning horses? If so, those who train the horses and, of course, the stewards should have spoken out against such a stupid, irresponsible and obnoxious advertising system. It is all about the money at every turn. Shame on Churchill.

  3. Thank you Rose! Even the Louisville Courier Journal’s Jennie Rees reported the incident and trainer Kenny Wirth, who makes his living at Churchill,put the majority of blame on the Jumbotron and its audio system.. If a trainer was upset enough to state this, it’s hopefully going to get some reevaluation. The incident made the Thoroughbred Daily News with the onus being placed on the audio from the new system as well. Churchill has been taking a lot of heat over the last few weeks. I will be looking to see if they take some action. As for poor Never Tell Lynda, none of this afterthought will do her any good, but perhaps other horses can be spared the pain and panic of this thoughtless innovation.

  4. Susan, it will be interesting to see how Churchill responds. It is a pity Churchill could not be held responsible for the death/loss of the horse. Of course, Wirth would be blackballed if he took any action and maybe he will be, anyway, for what he has said. If there was action taken Churchill might “settle” because it would be more bad publicity. And this happened in the Thoroughbred capital !
    Thank you for your commitment to follow up on this.
    Never tell Linda should not have died this way.

  5. Sounds like poor Mr. Wirth is having a string of bad luck. It sounds as if Never Tell Lynda has had even worse luck. Why can’t this gambling industry, that cares little about the horses, just go away?

  6. I saw something very similar happen a few years back. Before the race even started, horses were being tacked in the box and all of a sudden this horse just reared out of nowhere, I assume all of the commotion in the paddock, it was a young field. Poor guy busted his head right there and started seizing before anyone thought to do anything. It’s unfortunate people don’t see how sensitive these animals are to this whole sport, not just the impact on their fragile bodies.

  7. Has there been any action taken by CD regarding the incident that resulted in the death of the mare Never Tell Lynda? Of course, I’m certain they need much longer than nine days to make a determination. They might need to form a committee…

    Poor Lady Ten didn’t get the consideration of being scratched on Preakness Stakes day when a similar incident occurred. This 5 y/o mare, who had nearly a year off between her 12th and 13th starts, had her 14th start in the Gallorette . It was decided she needed blinkers, and in the attempt to get them on her, she startled, reared, and flipped over landing on her back and hitting her head, as well. I watched the entire incident. Of course the camera panned away from her, and minutes later, when she was being loaded into the gate, the commentator remarked how Lady Ten had been evaluated by the veterinarian and it was determined she was “fit” to run. Now it was merely MINUTES from her flipping completely over to being loaded into the starting gate. It was an absolute impossibility (time-wise) for Lady Ten to be walked away from the stimulating atmosphere that is present before the start of a race, to where she could be adequately assessed by a veterinarian. And with her own pre-race adrenaline coursing through her system, does anyone with basic physiology knowledge believe the mare is going to show evidence of her true physical condition at that moment?…amidst the herd she is about to run with? What a crock of s***.

    Lady Ten, all 1000-pound-plus of her, made to race after landing full-force on her back and head, “stopped leaving the far turn and was eased”. We know how abusive this industry is…but when they gloss it over and attempt to mislead the public that is adding injury to insult. But as is often stated here, this is horseracing.

  8. Vet. assessments are a joke. And as you pointed out, Joy, in this particular situation a complete sham as well as insulting to anyone who cares to think.
    Run ’em at any cost and the cost is, all too often, the life of the horse.

  9. Preakness. Anyone remember when Barbaro came through the starting gate after being loaded? He obviously banged his head when coming through the gate. He was assessed for what? Maybe 12 seconds and said he was fit to run. He ended up breaking his right hind leg because he miss-stepped, in what? A few hundred feet after the start. Obviously he should have been scratched immediately. It was even said that day that any horse who made a false start never won the Preakness. He should have been pulled.

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