Vesta Balestiere has only one wish before any of her horses start a steeplechase race: "May they all come back safely."
Saturday afternoon her horse, Rowdy Irishman, one of the stars of steeplechase racing, was one of two horses that failed to come home safe.
Six horses started the three-mile Iroquois Steeplechase feature race, but only three crossed the finish line. One, Avanico, threw his rider David Bentley halfway around the first trip around the course and had to be caught by a member of the mounted patrol. Another, Rarity Bay, owned by Calvin Houghland, did not finish the race after falling far behind the lead horses.
Rowdy Irishman, winner of the Iroquois Steeplechase in 1998 and 1999, and the second-place finisher in 1997, will never reach the finish line again.
"That's always my prayer before a race