Horse racing at the Kentucky Derby has been suspended to begin an investigation into the deaths of 12 horses over the course of a month. Races that were to be held at this location will be moved to Ellis Park Racecourse in Henderson. Kentucky Derby organizers are devastated by horse deaths.
Churchill Downs racecourse, known for hosting the Kentucky Derby, has announced that it is suspending racing to fully investigate the deaths of 12 horses in the last month.
“What happened at our track is absolutely horrific and absolutely unacceptable. Despite our best efforts to identify the cause of recent horse injuries, and despite the fact that no issues have been linked to our racing surfaces or the environment at Churchill Downs, we need more time to review all details and circumstances from top to bottom so that we can strengthen our surface, safety and integrity protocols,” Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs Incorporated, which operates the track, said in a statement.
From Saturday, April 29, the opening of the Kentucky Derby week, to Saturday, May 6, the day of the big race, seven horses died, including four (Wild on Ice, Brian’s Take Charge, Freezing Point and Chloe’s Dream) seriously injured and euthanized. Another one (The Code of Kings) was put to sleep after breaking his neck. Two other horses (Parents Pride and Chasing Artie) died suddenly and for unknown reasons. Five more horses have died in the past month at this racecourse, bringing the death toll to 12.
Track officials have not yet found a cause of death that would indicate that their deaths were related to the condition of the track.