Churchill Downs, Home Of The Kentucky Derby, Shutting Down In Wake Of Horse Deaths

A string of race horse deaths has prompted fabled Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky to suspend its racing operations beginning June 7.

The suspension will continue throughout the Spring Meet schedule, according to a release from the racetrack.

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In the last month, 12 horses died at the home of the Kentucky Derby.

“What has happened at our track is deeply upsetting and absolutely unacceptable,” Bill Carstanjen, Churchill Downs Incorporated’s CEO, said in a statement. “Despite our best efforts to identify a cause for the recent horse injuries, and though no issues have been linked to our racing surfaces or environment at Churchill Downs, we need to take more time to conduct a top-to-bottom review of all of the details and circumstances so that we can further strengthen our surface, safety and integrity protocols.”

The situation is reminiscent of a similar plan by Los Angeles adjacent Santa Anita Park, which shut down indefinitely after 21 horses died at the storied Southern California venue in 10 weeks The facility was closed for more than a year before reopening in 2021.

Churchill Downs said in its release that the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority determined that “no single factor has been identified as a potential cause and no discernible pattern has been detected to link the fatalities.”

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals called for Churchill Downs to close, terming the facility a “killing field.”

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