In a stunning move yesterday, Kentucky Derby Favorite Forte was scratched from the race just hours before the “Fastest Two Minutes In Sports” got underway. He was the 5th racehorse to be removed from competition on Saturday.
SB Nation wrote that he had opened strong in the betting market and remained there right up until the end, saying, “Forte, winner of four-straight races, opened as the 3-1 favorite earlier this week. Those odds moved to 4-1 on Saturday morning, ahead of this news. Forte was the favorite for a reason, with wins in six of seven races, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the Florida Derby.”
Fox News added that after becoming the 5th horse to stay off the track that the Derby would be the smallest field in some years and the first in a long while to see so many scratches. “Forte is the fifth horse scratched from the Derby, and the race is now set to be run with 18 horses,” the outlet wrote. “It would be the smallest field to run at the Kentucky Derby since 2020, when just 15 horses ran, according to ESPN.”
“It’s the first time since 1936 that five horses have been scratched from the race,” Fox later said.
Aside from the five scratches, controversy ad mystery has plagued Churchill Downs lately. In the past few weeks, four horses have died following their training, with two of the horses belonging to and being trained by the same people.
A separate Fox News article said:
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.
As a result, one of the trainers, Saffie Joseph Jr., was suspended until more information could be garnered.
“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, President and Chief Operating Officer of CDI. “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.”
Prior to his suspension, 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.
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