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Northfield Park racetrack works to improve horse safety following deadly accident

Northfield Park Cleveland casino
Andrew Meyer
Ideastream Public Media
MGM Resorts is building a fence around the infield pond to prevent any further accidents.

MGM Northfield Park is taking steps to prevent any further repeats of the accident from earlier this week when a horse bolted into a retention pond and drowned. It’s begun construction on a fence around the pond in the middle of the track.

According to the U.S. Harness Racing Alumni Association, the horse, named Alfred Hanover, was spooked by a tractor while being unhooked from its race bike. It got away from its handlers and ran into the pond, drowning under the weight of its gear.

“We are deeply saddened by racehorse Alfred Hanover’s passing and extend our condolences to his owner, trainer and all involved,” MGM Northfield Park General Manager Matt Buckley said in a statement.

Northfield Park infield
Andrew Meyer
Ideastream Public Media
Infield retention pond at Northfield Park racetrack

This isn’t the first time a horse has ended up in a pond at a racetrack. Last year, a different horse had to be rescued from the pond at Northfield Park after running into it. And in 2019, a horse drowned in a pond at Miami Valley Gaming in Southwest Ohio.

Animal Wellness Action has been leading an effort to end these types of accidents. Executive Director Marty Irby said his group was “saddened to see yet another racehorse death in the world of harness racing.”

“Where else would we tolerate any athlete drowning during a sporting event without a serious investigation?” Irby said.

The Ohio State Racing Commission says it’s investigating the incident at Northfield Park.

Work is scheduled to be completed on the fence around the retention pond next week, according to Dara Cohen, the director of regional corporate communications at MGM Resorts International. In the meantime, she said, a temporary fence has been installed.

Braedon Olsen is a high school intern from University School, where he is a rising senior. He has worked for two years with University School’s newspaper, The University School News, both as a staff writer and as an Editor-in-Chief. Braedon is also a diehard Cleveland sports fan and an avid stat junkie.