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Horse injured in Great Northern Fair Indian Relay dies

Month-long battle with injuries proves to be too much


August 23, 2019

Havre Daily News/Ryan Berry

Strike It Big, the horse that crashed in the final lap of an Indian Relay race during the Great Northern Fair in July, has died due to injuries sustained in the accident.

Randolph Bigday, Strike It Big's owner, wrote in a statement to the Havre Daily News that the 9-year-old gelding died last weekend and called the day of the accident "one of the hardest days" he's experienced.

"We knew it would be a long road to recovery," Bigday said, "and the chances of losing him were possible. We turned Strike It Big into the pasture next to our home to keep a close eye on him and work with him every day. Although he was in a lot of pain, and the meds would eventually wear off, he kept high-spirited and kept moving along."

For a month after the crash, in which Strike It Big injured one of his front legs, his owners attempted to help him recover at home in Prior. Signs looked positive at times, but in the end, the injury was too much to overcome, Bigday said.

Bigday said that instead of prolonging the inevitable with more veterinary visits, he and his family wanted their horse to be comfortable in his final days alongside his Fights Alone relay teammates Bounced and Bonnie's BearCat.

"Even though we are saddened, and a part of our hearts were taken, we can't be happier that he is no longer in pain and that he was surrounded by all who loved him in his hometown," Bigday said. "Strike It Big made a major impact on our family, and we will miss him dearly."

Strike It Big's death has called to question the quality of the racetrack at the Great Northern Fairgrounds, as Bigday cites poor track conditions as the cause of the accident.

Bigday said he was under the impression the track was in good shape, but he said it had the same issues as it did in 2018.

After multiple horses stumbled on the third turn of the track in the first two heats, organizers attempted to fix the problem, but in the very next race, Strike It Big and rider Rhylan Sioux went down at that corner.

Bigday said Sioux is fully recovered and already riding again.

Indian Relay organizer Tim "J.R." Rosette Jr. took the blame for the poor track conditions immediately following the incident, though he did attempt to resolve the track's issues before the crash happened.

Rosette has since stepped down from the organizer position and handed off Indian Relay duties to Wade Colliflower.

Rosette and Colliflower both declined to provide comment on Strike It Big's death or to provide more information on the future of the Indian Relay at the Great Northern Fair.

Havre Daily News/Ryan Berry

Strike It Big's owner, Randolph Bigday, back center, stands over his horse July 21 immediately after a crash injured the racehorse during the Indian Relay race at the Great Northern Fair.

Track repairs and track preparation are generally the promoter's duty, as the Great Northern Fair Board only provides the grounds for the race, but the fair board did help Rosette with prepping the track.

Smith said he was not aware Strike It Big had died, adding that he will need to discuss with the board the future of the Indian Relay. 

"We will talk with our board about it. We have no decision on it at this time," he said.

He referred the Havre Daily to his comments after the crash about the track.

Smith said after the crash that "it is the responsibility of the participants to inspect the track and to ride their animals in accordance of what the conditions are."

Bigday said Sioux was pushing Strike It Big to overtake first place in the final lap of the race and that the "freak accident" was a direct result of the track.

"Strike It Big had the biggest heart and a love for running," Bigday said. "He was our biggest baby we owned and trained. He fought to the end."


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