XENIA — A harness racing accident Wednesday at the Greene County Fair turned into a potentially dangerous situation when a horse got loose and left the track.
The incident occurred during the third race of the evening. A three horse collision saw Tugboat Tuffy, the No. 4 entry ridden by Bucky Troute, run free after Troute was dislodged from his cart. The horse eventually found an open gate on the east end of the track and ran at high speed through the opening.
Bystanders said the horse made its way to an opening roughly 175 feet beyond the track limits next to a dumpster and tree line where it stopped and had control over it regained. There were no injuries reported from the horse leaving the track.
Workers tending to the track in between races told Greg Simpson, a member of the Ohio State Racing Commission overseeing safety at the event, the gate which the horse used to exit the track was broken and not operational.
Simpson said if the gate was closed it would have stopped the horse from attempting to use it.
“That horse was at full gallop and it could have come through and killed somebody,” Simpson said.
Dave Elliott, a member of the Greene County Fair Board, thought the gate was able to be closed when asked about its status after the incident.
“We’ll get it repaired,” Elliott said. “That’s all I can say about it. If it needs repaired, it’ll be repaired.”
The accident occurred on the backstretch of the track during the final lap of the race.
Sultan of Cash, driven by Roger Hughes Jr. of Jamestown, was leading the race when he was run into from behind by another entry. Top Dollar, the No. 6 horse, also became involved in the accident which saw all three riders get dislodged from their respective carts.
Hughes was able to get back on his horse and ride it to the finish line. Top Dollar was corralled by the outrider on the track.
He said his goal was to move Sultan of Cash out of the inside racing line as he believed him to be getting tired but is unsure what occurred from behind for him to get run into.
“Maybe it was my fault, I don’t know, but I don’t think it was,” Hughes said. “I got out of the racing line. Maybe I didn’t. I don’t know but I thought I did.”
Troute was treated by emergency crews on the track for nearly 30 minutes. Elliott said he was taken to a local medical facility for precautionary measures.
Elliot said that he would have maintenance workers look at the gate on Thursday.
“When you look at this, if somebody was standing here, they would have been trampled to death,” Simpson said of where Tugboat Tuffy left the track.
After the track was cleared, racing resumed and finished the nine-race program. The open gate was not attempted to be closed when racing resumed.
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow him on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.