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Man accused of deliberately releasing horse that died at Belmont Park

Belmont Park in Elmont on June 1.

Belmont Park in Elmont on June 1. Credit: Getty Images / Al Bello

A horse at the Belmont Park racetrack died Thursday after being let out from a barn stall and falling onto the street, according to the Nassau County Police Department, which arrested and charged a former Belmont employee with burglary and reckless endangerment of property in the incident.

The man, Ramzan Antooa, 38, of Elmont, had been seen by racetrack security personnel at about 7:45 p.m. "deliberately releasing a two year old female horse from a barn stall," according to a news release from Police Officer Tara Ortiz, a department spokeswoman.

"The horse fell once on the street pavement, causing her to suffer fatal injuries," according to the release, which said Antooa was arrested while "still at the scene," 2150 Hempstead Tpke. in Elmont.

The release said the horse died due to the fall, but according to the state Gaming Commission’s Horse Racing database, the horse "ran loose and fell. Injuries sustained in fall subsequently necessitated euthanasia."

The horse was an unraced thoroughbred named Pasta, according to Patrick McKenna, a spokesman for the New York Racing Association, which operates New York’s three major tracks: Belmont Park, Aqueduct Racetrack and Saratoga Race Course.

The police department's news release said Antooa was a racetrack employee, but McKenna said Antooa is a former employee of Pasta’s horse trainer.

Antooa was arraigned Friday at First District Court in Hempstead, where he was freed without bail, according to online court records, which said the case was before Judge Martin J. Massell and is due back in court Sept. 21.

The burglary charge is a felony and the endangerment a misdemeanor, the records say.

A phone number for Antooa couldn’t be located, and the practice of the Legal Aid Society of Nassau County, which the records say represented him at arraignment, is not to comment to the press about individual cases.

McKenna wrote in an email that the case was immediately referred to the Nassau police, and "we continue to assist them in the course of their ongoing investigation into this criminal matter."

Belmont Park opened in 1905 and hosts the Belmont Stakes.

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