A division of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is asking questions about an "unprecedented" event Tuesday when two horses died within minutes of each other at the Meadows Racetrack and Casino.
Department spokeswoman Samantha Krepps said one horse died during a live race at the popular Washington County attraction and the second was euthanized after breaking its leg.
Mike Jeannot, president of Meadows Racing, said three or four horses die each year of various causes, sometimes heart attacks.
"So two in one day is way out of the ordinary," he said. "It's not only unusual, it's unprecedented."
The Harness Racing Commission, which initiates investigations at the racetrack, will take action if evidence emerges showing the trainer violated any rules, Ms. Krepps said.
Mr. Jeannot said the first horse, a 7-year-old named Little Bit Tricky, died just before the start of the 14th race, as it and its driver were getting ready behind the starting gate. A necropsy is expected to take between a month and 45 days, Ms. Krepps said, but Mr. Jeannot said early reports show the horse died while it was "choked down" -- a condition that makes the animal unable to breathe.
About 15 minutes later, toward the end of the 15th race, 8-year-old Lislea Isabella went down on a stretch of track. Her fall didn't interfere with any other horses, Mr. Jeannot said.
There were no other injuries reported.
Molly Born: email@example.com, 412-263-1944 and on Twitter: @borntolede.