Two more horses were euthanized preceding the running of the 149th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, leaving the “Fastest Two Minutes in Sports” with seven total horse casualties in the days leading up to the event.
Fox News wrote of the two latest equine fatalities at the famous horse-racing mecca, saying:
Chloe’s Dream, a 3-year-old gelding that ran on the Derby undercard, was hauled away by a van and later euthanized Saturday morning.
Freezing Point, a 3-year-old colt, was then pulled from the Pat Day Mile race just hours before the start of the main event. The horse later received a lethal injection.
Following the “highly unusual” circumstances, Churchill Downs released a statement assuring everyone with interest in the sport that it took the “issue very seriously” and would be investing in ways to reduce risks.
“While a series of events like this is highly unusual, it is completely unacceptable,” the statement read. “We take this very seriously and acknowledge that these troubling incidents are alarming and must be addressed.”
“We feel a tremendous responsibility to our fans, the participants in our sport and the entire industry to be a leader in safety and continue to make significant investments to eliminate risk to our athletes. We have full confidence in our racing surfaces and have been assured by our riders and horsemen that they do as well,” it added.
Since that article was written, Saffie Joseph Jr., trainer of a pair of now-dead horses, was suspended until an investigation could be completed.
“Given the unexplained sudden deaths, we have reasonable concerns about the condition of his horses, and decided to suspend him indefinitely until details are analyzed and understood,” said Bill Mudd, President and Chief Operating Officer of CDI. “The safety of our equine and human athletes and integrity of our sport is our highest priority. We feel these measures are our duty and responsibility.”
Others chimed in too. Joseph Grove of the group Animal Wellness Action said, “As a native Louisvillian, I get the passion people here and across the country feel about this iconic race. But the care of the horses must be our first priority, and this cluster of horse deaths is startling. Lamentations are not enough.”
Additionally, Kristin Voskuhl, a spokesperson for the Public Protection Cabinet, which includes the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, said, “The KHRC is committed to the health and safety of every horse and rider and will follow the robust investigative procedures in place for issues of safety and racing integrity.”
Chauncey Morris, the executive director of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, said, “Five deaths at one race track is abnormal. Everybody in this sport − especially our organization − is absolutely dedicated to safety and reform and making everything that happens between training and racing better. But, there’s a lot of unknowns that we won’t know until we have full data from the necropsy report.”
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