Reports from Wellington, Florida tonight are that a growing number of horses, as many as 14 and possibly more, died this afternoon and that several horses are gravely ill on the grounds of the International Polo Club Palm Beach, according to spectators and reports published on the web sites of the the Palm Beach Post,Sun Sentinel and Palm Beach Daily News.
While the accounts on the three web sites disagree on details, all three reports agree that the horses were all part of La LeChuza Caracas, the South American team headed by Venezuelan banker Victor Vargas. The team, one of the highest-regarded in the world, has been participating in the International Finals tournament in Wellington. The horses that died were very valuable animals.
Update: an 11 p.m. report from KTLA-TV agrees that 14 horses died and suggests the worst, that all the horses may have suffered a drug reaction and that some horses went down in the trailer en route to the match and were dead on arrival.
At this time this situation does not appear to be initiating any kind of a widespread health alert to the general horse population in Florida or to affect any livestock transport into or out of the state or county. An announcement should be made in a day or two from the state veterinarian or agriculture officials, who will conduct post-mortem examinations of the bodies. Several reports suggest that the bodies are being turned over to the diagnostic laboratory in Kissimmee, Florida.
I will update this post if I have more details. Thanks to everyone who has supplied information so far; I hope this is one of those stories that is not as bad as it sounds. I’m sorry that it is difficult to do much more than pass on links to local reports when a story breaks on Sunday afternoon, but it is safer than quoting an incorrect report published elsewhere.