Quarter Horse Rescued from Los Al Infield Lake

Walk The Dog is safe after taking a swim.

News Release

Outrider Eric Najduch jumped into the infield lake to save Walk The Dog. (Photo courtesy Los Alamitos)

A 2-year-old Quarter Horse named Walk The Dog was rescued out of one of the infield lakes at Los Alamitos Race Course after he broke through the gate, ran loose around the track, bolted into the infield, and then went for an unintentional swim prior to the start of the seventh race on Sunday night at the Orange County oval.

The gelding was one of two horses that broke through the starting gate before the start of the 330-yard race. One of those horses, the filly Feel Wanted, was captured shortly after breaking loose, but Walk The Dog proved to be far more elusive. After going into the infield he ran into the water and swam for several minutes. Outrider Eric Najduch jumped into the water and was able to corral Walk The Dog before grabbing a hold of the horse.

Track veterinarian Ashley Troncatty, DVM, sedated the horse and track surface superintendent Rick Hughes used a truck loader to bring the horse out of the lake. The starting gate crew and other track personnel were also on hand to help in the successful rescue effort. Once the horse was on land, Dr. Troncatty remained next to Walk The Dog to make sure that he was safe and in good physical shape to stand up under his own power once he was ready to do so. The horse was given all the time necessary to relax and feel comfortable before he was walked inside the horse ambulance in order to transport him back to the barn of his trainer, Lin Melton.

Dr. Troncatty was filling in for track veterinarian Becky Fitzgerald, DVM, who just a few hours earlier had given birth to a boy. Dr. Fitzgerald is married to Quarter Horse jockey Cesar De Alba.

“This was just my third day at Los Alamitos,” Dr. Troncatty said. “The whole crew did a great job. Eric was the one that jumped in the water to get him. The horse was getting exhausted from the swimming. It takes a lot of out of them.”

Najduch has only worked as the night outrider for around two months at Cypress track. He’s been filling in for outrider and trainer Keith Craigmyle, who is recovering from a broken leg suffered during a training mishap.

“My job is to do anything that I can to keep the horses and jockeys safe,” Najduch said. “I was just doing my job. The water was pretty cold. I’m just happy that I still got my wedding ring on. I didn’t lose it in the lake so it’s all good. Everyone did their job today. The horse looks okay so I’m very happy about that.”

Najduch also gallops horses in the morning for trainer Patricia Visscher at Los Alamitos.

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