Horse racing fans react to new Churchill Downs rules

Even with all the controversy surrounding Churchill, people still made their way into stands to watch the races on Thursday.
Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 11:34 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Thursday was the first round of racing under Churchill Downs’s new safety plan.

It’s three new rules that try to keep horses that are more likely to be injured off the track.

Even with all the controversy surrounding Churchill, people still made their way into the stands to watch the races on Thursday.

From avid horse fans to first-time watchers, Churchill was filled with every level of horse racing fandom.

They all seemed to agree on one thing. Everyone wants the horses and jockeys to be safe, but horse racing and Churchill Downs is a big chunk of Louisville’s culture, and sometimes things just happen.

No one wants to see a horse die after racing. However, it’s happened a dozen times at Churchill Downs since March 30th.

“This is concerning if you lose 12 horses in a matter of a month or a month and a half,” Barry Fallon said.

Fallon has faith they’ll figure it out.

“They’ll get it straightened out. This business has been going on since 1875 for a reason,” Fallon said.

Fallon has been around horse racing and Churchill Downs all his life. He’s even become a co-owner of a horse recently.

He said, unfortunately, sometimes things like this happen.

“They’ve got two hooves that they’re carrying 2000 lbs or better,” Fallon said. “So I don’t know, their bone structure is set for running, that’s what they’re set for. Things happen.”

C.R. Redcorn is an avid bettor. In fact, a horse he bet on won a race on Thursday.

He said he agreed with new the Churchill rules that have to do with the health of the horses.

“I bet horses strictly on their confirmation,” Redcorn said. “Fitness level. And I win more than I lose.”

Redcorn has been coming to Churchill Downs for 20 years, and other tracks even longer than that.

With all the talk about Churchill’s track, and its care for horses and how that all might play into the recent deaths, Redcorn has only good things to say.

“Horses are an animal of course, and somebody’s got to take care of it,” Redcorn said. “It can’t decide when it’s going to eat and all that stuff. I think they do a good job here at Churchill Downs taking care of their horses.”

However, some people don’t feel that way, such as Anne Marie Redcorn’s daughter.

“We’re coming out here on Sunday for my grandson’s birthday,” Anne Marie said. “She said I’ll go eat with you afterward. She doesn’t want to come.”

Anne Marie said her daughter loves animals and doesn’t think what’s happened is right and doesn’t want to support it.

Annie Marie herself agreed with many of the people we talked to, that sometimes things happen.

“I’ve seen a horse go down a jockey come off of it, and jockeys have been hurt also,” she said. “It’s just part of it.”

She also said 12 deaths in two months is definitely a lot.

PETA was driving around Churchill on Thursday, playing the video of Lost in Limbo falling during a race last week and calling for Churchill to suspend the races.

A couple from out of town who are vacationing in Louisville said without Churchill Downs and horse racing, they wouldn’t be here spending their money.