Twenty-One Horses Drop Dead Before Polo Match

April 20, 2009

(ChattahBox)—The well-heeled Palm Beach spectators at Sunday’s United States Open polo championships witnessed a horrific scene right before the day’s events, when dozens of horses began stumbling and falling to the ground dead in a tumble at the South Florida polo grounds. All 21 of the dead horses came from the Venezuelan-based Lechuza Caracas team. The veterinarians on the scene and an investigative committee, don’t know the precise cause of death yet, but believe the horses perished from poisoning, either accidental or deliberate.

Until necropsies are performed on the deceased horses, polo officials can’t say if the horses were perhaps exposed to contaminated hay, were deliberately poisoned or were given a performance-enhancing drug gone bad.

Peter Rizzo, director of the Lake Worth-based United States Polo Association, says “anything goes,” in the sport of polo racing, with respect to performance drugs. Neither the Polo association nor other agencies, such as the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation, ban doping of polo horses.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services are investigating the deaths for evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

The team’s owner, Victor Vargas, a wealthy Venezuelan banker, owned many of the dead horses. Individual team riders owned the remaining horses.

Although the polo competition was cut short on Sunday, officials decided to resume competition on Wednesday. The U.S. polo championships make up the top three events in the polo world, together with competitions held in Britain and Argentina. Every year the top players in the world arrive at the South Florida tournament.

The results of the investigation into the Venezuelan horses’ death are expected to take several weeks.



2 Responses to “Twenty-One Horses Drop Dead Before Polo Match”

  1. Florida Pharmacy Says Oops, Sorry: Admits Botching Polo Ponies’ Vitamin Supplement | ChattahBox News Blog on April 23rd, 2009 8:14 pm

    […] Pharmacy of Ocala, Florida made a statement today, taking blame for the tragic and sudden deaths of 21 polo horses before a Polo Championship match on Sunday in South Florida. The pharmacy […]

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