Churchill Downs racetrack under investigation after four horses died

Churchill Downs racetrack under investigation after four horses died
Kentucky Derby horse Wild On Ice trains with Jockey Ken Tohill at Churchill Downs before he was hurt and had to be put down, Louisville, Kentucky, United Stated, April 27, 2023, credit: USA Today Network via Reuters Connect

Horse racing complex Churchill Downs in the United States announced on Wednesday that it would cooperate with authorities to investigate the deaths of four horses in the lead-up to Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.

The Kentucky Derby is a horse racing event held annually in Kentucky on the first Saturday in May, ending the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Week festival.

During the festival, four horses died, raising concerns about horse welfare and the reputation of the horse-racing industry.

Horse Wild On Ice, who was entered to run in the first race of the series, had to be put down last week after suffering a leg injury during a training session. Three other horses, Parents Pride, Chasing Artie, and Take Charge Briana, also died in separate incidents.

Parents Pride and Chasing Artie were horses of trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. who was suspended from the race indefinitely on Thursday.

Churchill Downs acknowledged the gravity of the situation, stating, “While a series of events like this is highly unusual, it is completely unacceptable. We take this very seriously and acknowledge that these troubling incidents are alarming and must be addressed.”

Wayne Pacelle, the president of Animal Wellness Action, called the multiple incidents distressing and urged Churchill Downs and other racetracks to prioritize horse welfare.

He said in a statement, “It should be a top priority for Churchill Downs and all other tracks to make horse welfare their top priority.”

The investigation into the four horse deaths aims to determine the causes and identify any possible patterns or contributing factors. The outcome of the investigation will be crucial for the horse-racing industry, as it seeks to maintain public trust and ensure the well-being of its horses.

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