Churchill Downs Inc., HISA Issue Statements On Horse Deaths - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Churchill Downs Inc., HISA Issue Statements On Horse Deaths

Churchill Downs Inc. and the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority each released statements on Saturday night concerning the equine fatalities at Churchill Downs racetrack, including the two Kentucky Derby day deaths that brought the total to seven dead horses since April 27.

Churchill Downs Inc. statement:

Two horses sustained severe injuries during today's Churchill Downs race card. Chloe's Dream suffered a right knee fracture in Race 2 at the top of the first turn. Freezing Point incurred a left front biaxial sesamoid fracture in Race 8 midway down the backstretch. In the interest of pursuing the most humane treatment for each horse, the owner, trainer and private veterinarian, in consultation with a board-certified equine surgeon, made the difficult decision to euthanize. We express our most sincere condolences to those connections who cared for and loved Chloe's Dream and Freezing Point.

It is with the utmost sadness that we report these tragic fatal injuries. Churchill Downs is unwavering in our commitment to the health and well-being of equine safety. The equine fatalities leading to this year's Kentucky Derby are a sobering reminder of the urgent need to mobilize our industry in order to explore every avenue possible and effectively minimize any avoidable risk in the sport.

Despite our determination to continually improve upon the highest industry standards, there is more to be done and we will rigorously work to understand what caused these incidents and build upon our existing data, programs and practices to better understand what has been incredibly difficult for us to witness and accept this week.

While each incident reported has been unique, it is important to note that there has been no discernible pattern detected in the injuries sustained. Our track surfaces are closely monitored by industry experts to ensure their integrity. Each horse that participates in racing at Churchill Downs must undergo multiple, comprehensive veterinarian exams and observations to ensure their fitness to race.

From here, we will fully and actively work with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) and the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) to thoroughly investigate each incident to determine, to the degree possible, any underlying health or environmental causes and apply those learnings to continue to improve the safety of this sport. Together, we all want what is best for the horses.

The team at Churchill Downs works year-round to deliver an inspiring and world-class event to thousands of fans, but also to provide the safest racing environment each and every day. We are proud of the enduring legacy of the Kentucky Derby and these magnificent horses are central to its iconic appeal. While we believe the incidents leading to this year's Derby are anomalies, they are unacceptable and we remain steadfast in our commitment to safety and integrity.

HISA statement:

HISA mourns the losses of Chloe's Dream and Freezing Point alongside their connections and the entire racing community. HISA's mission is to vigorously protect the safety of our horses and riders. The Racetrack Safety Program has been in effect since July 2022 and requires thorough pre-race veterinary inspections to ensure every horse is fit to race and holds every track to rigorous safety and maintenance standards.

Churchill Downs has been cooperating with HISA since its inception and is in full compliance with our rules and processes. On the morning of each race, every horse undergoes a hands-on inspection and is observed in motion outside their stall. A team of Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) regulatory veterinarians also views each horse in the paddock, during the post parade and as they approach and load into the starting gate.  If a horse is deemed unfit to race by the regulatory veterinarians, it will be scratched, as was the case in a number of circumstances this week. Both Chloe's Dream and Freezing Point passed all inspections without incident.

Additionally, Churchill Downs retained Mick Peterson, Director of the Racetrack Safety Program at the University of Kentucky and the preeminent racetrack surface expert, to ensure safe and consistent conditions across racing and training surfaces. Peterson was previously retained by HISA as part of its national accreditation process, and we are confident in his ability to identify potential issues at play.  Dr. Peterson has assured both HISA and Churchill Downs that the racing surface is safe.

HISA is in constant communication with the KHRC as it leads investigations into the recent fatalities, and has already initiated its own, fully independent, investigation.  HISA will share more details as they are available.

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