Two more horses have died after suffering injuries the Louisville racetrack that annually hosts the Kentucky Derby, the 11th and 12th horses to die just this month at Churchill Downs.
Lost in Limbo and Mare Kimberly Dream, both 7-year-old Kentucky breds, were euthanized on Friday and Saturday, the Associated Press reported, citing officials at the racetrack. Mare Kimberly Dream sustained a distal sesamodean ligament rupture to her front leg while running in Saturday’s first race. Lost in Limbo suffered a similar injury during the seventh race on Friday.
All 12 horses were put down after suffering serious injuries on the racetrack.
Churchill Downs said in a statement that both horses were euthanized because the injuries were “inoperable and unrecoverable,” according to the AP. The racetrack is investigating the latest deaths, which followed a series of others since this year’s Kentucky Derby began earlier in May.
“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,” said Churchill Downs in a statement, according to the AP. “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 it already commissioned an expert to perform tests on the Kentucky Derby racetrack in light of the 10 fatalities that occurred before this weekend. The results of those tests apparently did not raise concerns, but an epidemiological study by the Jockey Club is also underway to evaluate each horse individually.
“We are troubled by this recent string of fatalities,” the statement 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.”
CBS News contacted Churchill Downs for more information but did not receive an immediate reply.
Churchill Downs initially confirmed it had opened an investigation in coordination with the Kentucky Horseracing Commission and the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority after the deaths of two horses who sustained severe injuries in races on May 6. In a statement obtained by CBS News at the time, the racetrack said it would evaluate “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.”
Two days earlier, the racetrack announced the indefinite suspension of one of its trainers, Saffie Joseph, Jr. The decision came after the “highly-unusual sudden deaths” of two horses that he had trained at Churchill Downs, the racetrack said. It prohibited Joseph, and any trainer either directly or indirectly employed by him, from entering horses in races or applying for stall occupancy at racetracks owned by Churchill Downs.
“Given the unexplained sudden deaths, we have reasonable concerns about the condition of his horses, and decided to suspend him indefinitely until details are analyzed and understood,” said Bill Mudd, the president and chief operating officer at Churchill Downs, in a statement. “The safety of our equine and human athletes and integrity of our sport is our highest priority. We feel these measures are our duty and responsibility.”
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