As Churchill Downs prepares to host the 149th running of the famous Kentucky Derby, a spooky series of tragedies is plaguing the facilities. In the past week, four horses have died mysteriously while running the track.
Two of the four horses, whether coincidence or not, were both owned and jockeyed by the same pair of men.
Fox News wrote of the four horses, albeit with limited knowledge of their deaths. Lab work on a few of the animals has come back to normal, so necropsies are planned to determine the actual cause of death. Fox said of the four deceased horses:
Parents Pride collapsed and died following its race Saturday, while Chasing Artie died after its race Tuesday. No cause of death for the two horses has been determined, although the deaths do not appear to be injury-related. Bloodwork and labs came back normal, so necropsies will be done to determine how the horses died.
Take Charge Briana was euthanized Saturday after sustaining an injury that was called “catastrophic” by Daily Racing Forum.
Wild on Ice was also euthanized Thursday after breaking a hind leg while training. The horse, owned by Frank Sumpter, was preparing to run at the Kentucky Derby
Saffie Joseph spoke with several media outlets, including USA Today and Kentucky’s Louisville Courier-Journal. Joseph was the trainer for both Parents Pride and Chasing Artie, two horses that helped the well-known trainer win more than $10 million last year.
Joseph said the most concerning aspect was not knowing what happened and that he felt “uneasy” about everything right now. He acknowledged the rumors swirling around the facilities and industry – including the possibility of performance enhancers – while cautioning that theories won’t help solve any problems yet.
When you don’t know something, that’s when it worries you the most,” he said to USA Today. “Something is wrong. A lot of thoughts run through your head, but you can drive yourself insane. I’m very uneasy right now. It’s not something I would wish on anybody.”
“They left the gate and didn’t even try and then dropped down. … Theories aren’t going to help. We need facts,” he added in an interview with the Courier-Journal. Joseph also mentioned that it seemed pretty clear a standard injury didn’t lead to these fatal outcomes.
Writing below the Fox article, one commenter specifically named the possibility of the use of “stimulants” or some variety of “foreign substance[s]” that would have rendered the horses more susceptible to their premature deaths.
“What weakened their hearts is more the question. Horses should be able to run that distance and recover unless their hearts have been weakened by stimulants or some other foreign substance,” the commenter suggested.
Replying directly below the initial comment, one user added:
“I think you hit the nail on the head. Other trainers such as Bob Baffert have had an unusual number of horses die from heart attacks. It’s the drugs they give them, but the trainers nearly always get away with it. Like most criminals these days.”
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