Churchill Downs releases statement following 12th horse death

(WAVE News)
Published: May. 27, 2023 at 7:04 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - In Saturday’s first race, Kimberly Dream received a significant injury to her left front leg, according to Churchill Downs officials.

Veterinarians determined that the injury was inoperable and made the difficult decision to euthanize Kimberly Dream, officials said.

This marks the 12th horse death at Churchill Downs since the stable area reopened for training on March 30, according to the release.

“It is with absolute dismay and sorrow that we report this highly unusual statistic,” Churchill Downs said in a statement. “Our team members mourn the loss of these animals as we continue to work together to discover cause and determine appropriate investments to minimize, to the degree possible, any avoidable risk in this sport and on our property. We do not accept this as suitable or tolerable and share the frustrations of the public, and in some cases, the questions to which we do not yet have answers. We have been rigorously working since the opening of the meet to understand what has led to this spike and have yet to find a conclusive discernable pattern as we await the findings of ongoing investigations into those injuries and fatalities.”

Churchill Downs said they understand the desire for justice or answers, but that those do not always come quickly.

Officials said they are actively working with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority and share their goal to improve the safety of the sport.

In recent weeks, Churchill Downs said they have been focusing on their responsibility to make sure they provide the safest racing environment possible on their property.

Officials said Churchill Downs has increased how often their surfaces are tested. The organization has commissioned Executive Director of Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory and Professor of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering at the University of Kentucky Doctor Mick Peterson to perform more tests on the racetrack.

The report showed that the measurements from retesting do not raise any concerns and that none of the data is inconsistent with prior measurements from Churchill Downs or other tracks.

“We simply will not allow these equine fatalities to be in vain,” Churchill Downs said. “We are engaged in an epidemiological study with the Jockey Club to review each individual horse to determine if there are any undetected patterns that have not been previously identified. These findings can be incorporated into our daily review of entries and potentially trigger additional interventions using advanced diagnostic modalities.”

Churchill Downs said they have worked to uncover ways to invest in research and resources that may be made available to to trainers so that together, they can better detect pre-existing injuries and work to avoid them.

The organization said they have made promising progress in finding ways to increase the use of technology to better inform and intervene when something is wrong with a horse. Churchill Downs said they are eager to share the announcement with the public in the coming days.

“We are troubled by this recent string of fatalities,” Churchill Downs said. “It is extremely inconsistent with the outcomes we have experienced over the years, with the reputation we have developed over the decades and with the expectations we set for ourselves and owe our fans. We are committed to doing this important work and updating the public with our developments.”

For more information on Churchill Downs’ current safety protocols and policies, click or tap here.