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ENTERTAINMENT | May 04

Churchill Downs Faces Tragedy

Churchill Downs Faces Tragedy
Messier with John Velazquez - Jamie Squire/Getty Images/afp

Recent Horse Deaths Cast Shadow Over Churchill Downs

Four horses have died while racing on the venerated Churchill Downs track since April 27th and two of the deaths remain a mystery. These recent events have overshadowed any other Kentucky Derby news coming out of Louisville, Kentucky and people are searching for answers.

The Death Track

I love horse racing, but the dark underbelly of the industry rears its ugly head every now and again, with the most recent being the euthanization of four thoroughbreds that had been training or racing on the track that annually hosts the greatest horse racing spectacle on the calendar, the Kentucky Derby picks and events.

Wild on Ice was a Derby contender and one of the four that had to be put down after training on the dirt course. Take Charge Briana was working out on the turf, and it too had to be humanely destroyed as the injuries sustained by both horses would not allow for a recovery.

Parents Pride and Chasing Artie both raced on the track last Saturday and Thursday before they subsequently collapsed and died. The confluence of tragic events comes at an inopportune time for the track as Derby Day draws ever near.

“Transparency is an important component of our commitment to safety and accountability in horse racing. We share the concern of our fans who have questions about the recent equine fatalities at Churchill Downs Racetrack and we extend our sincere condolences to those who love and cared for these horses,” read a statement by the famous Louisville track.

The statement went on to say, “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.

“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.”

Trainer in Disbelief Over Recent Horse Deaths

Saffie Joseph Jr., the trainer for Parents Pride and Chasing Artie, was both despondent and dumbfounded when he spoke to USA Today, stating, “This is something that doesn’t happen.

I’m shattered, basically, because I know it can’t happen. The odds of it happening twice is in the trillions. I ran almost 4,000 horses and it never happened. It doesn’t make sense.”

The University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostics Lab is in the midst of conducting necropsies on both Parents Pride and Chasing Artie while an investigation is underway as to the cause of the equine deaths.

Dr. Alan Ruggles, of the Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, who specializes in orthopedic surgery and lameness, stated, “It’s hard to make specific conclusions just [on the basis] that they happened close together.

Am I concerned that four horses are dead? 100 percent. You’d be silly not to be concerned about that. It bothers me. But it’s hard to make a conclusion of some way you could change that, per se, due to negligence or a condition that existed.”

BetUS will keep our readers updated on any news on Kentucky Derby regarding these mysterious deaths.

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