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Harness racing trainer accused in horse beating that forced animal to be put down

CRAWFORD, N.Y. (AP) — A harness racing trainer in upstate New York was accused of striking a horse and fracturing its skull, requiring the animal to be euthanized, authorities said.

Frederick Bourgault, 26, was arraigned Tuesday on two charges in connection with the death of a race horse named Finish Line last July at the Pine Bush Training Facility in Crawford, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) north of New York City, according to Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler.

Bourgault is accused of striking the horse with an unspecified hard object, causing a skull fracture that resulted in the animal being euthanized, according to a social media post from Hoovler.

Investigators later had the horse exhumed and examined by veterinary experts.

Bourgault was indicted in November on two felony charges, including second-degree criminal mischief. A judge on Tuesday ordered Bourgault, who is from Canada, to surrender his passport as the case proceeds.

It was not clear if Bourgault had an attorney. The Associated Press left phone messages at the offices of the district attorney and legal aid seeking information.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals noted that Bourgault had previously been fined or suspended for kicking horses and for excessive use of the whip.

“Bourgault is a repeat offender who should have been booted from racing years ago and banned the first time he whipped a horse after a race was over,” PETA senior vice president Kathy Guillermo said in a prepared release.