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Tragic Deaths Cast a Shadow Over Kentucky Derby Preparations



Knowledge Nuggets:

  • Four horses have tragically died at Churchill Downs ahead of the Kentucky Derby, prompting an investigation by the track.
  • Kentucky Derby entrant Wild on Ice and Take Charge Briana, both succumbed to musculoskeletal injuries, while two horses trained by Saffie Joseph Jr., Parents Pride and Chasing Artie, collapsed and died.
  • The causes of death for the latter two horses remain unknown, raising concerns within the racing community and prompting discussions about safety measures.

The excitement surrounding the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of the Triple Crown, has been overshadowed by the tragic deaths of four horses at Churchill Downs. In response, the track has launched an investigation into these deeply troubling incidents.

In a statement, the track expressed its seriousness and commitment to addressing the situation, emphasizing its responsibility to fans, participants, and the industry as a whole. It also reassured the public that significant investments have been made to ensure the safety of athletes, with full confidence in the racing surfaces.

Among the horses that lost their lives were Kentucky Derby entrant Wild on Ice and Take Charge Briana, both of whom suffered musculoskeletal injuries during training or racing.

Despite being transported to Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital for assessment, the injuries were deemed irreparable, leading to their euthanasia. Additionally, two horses trained by Saffie Joseph Jr., Parents Pride and Chasing Artie, tragically collapsed and died on the track.

The causes of their deaths remain unknown, further adding to the concerns and uncertainties surrounding these incidents.

Saffie Joseph Jr., deeply affected by the tragedies, expressed his shattered state of mind and his uncertainty about keeping his horse, Lord Miles, in the Kentucky Derby. The deaths have left him uneasy and questioning the circumstances. Lisa Lazarus, CEO of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, emphasized the paramount importance of the welfare of horses and riders.

She assured that investigations into the fatalities are underway and that the findings will be shared once the analysis is complete. The organization is also in contact with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and Churchill Downs to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the events.


These recent deaths evoke memories of the unfortunate events in 2019 when 42 horses lost their lives at Santa Anita Park in California.

Subsequent reforms were implemented in response to those tragedies. Notably, California and New York have thorough reporting requirements and a database cataloging equine injuries and fatalities, whereas Kentucky does not have similar measures in place.

As preparations for the Kentucky Derby continue, the racing community is grappling with these distressing incidents. The tragic deaths serve as a stark reminder of the importance of prioritizing safety in the sport.

They have sparked discussions about further safety measures and reforms to protect the well-being of horses and riders, ensuring that such heartrending incidents are minimized or prevented in the future.


1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Edith

    May 10, 2023 at 10:44 am

    Everyone wants to win and they will do anything including unsafe practices and doping. What a terrible price to pay for the coveted Triple Crown.

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