Churchill Downs Temporary Shuts Down Racing

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Horses are dying but why?

Even though there will not be a 2023 Thoroughbred Horse Racing Triple Crown winner, this was supposed to be a big week for the thoroughbred horse racing industry as the third race in the Triple Crown series will take place at the Belmont Racetrack in Elmont, New York. But the Belmont event is not the biggest story for the thoroughbred horse racing industry. Churchill Downs, where the Kentucky Derby is held, is shutting down racing on June 7th for a while, to find out why thoroughbred race horses are dying. Officials at the Louisville, Kentucky racetrack say they need some time to figure out what is occurring after 12 horses died in April and May at their facility. Two horses died running in the undercard of the Kentucky Derby on May 6th. This particular racing schedule was supposed to have ended on July 3rd. Churchill Downs officials will resume racing on June 10th at another Churchill Downs-owned racetrack, Ellis Park, in Henderson, Kentucky. The Ellis Park run was supposed to have taken place between July 7th and August 27th.

Lisa Lazarus, the chief executive of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, released a statement which said that the authority recommended to Churchill Downs that it cease racing because the cause of the deaths hasn’t been determined and therefore it isn’t clear what changes to make. Churchill Downs will implement new rules for the two Kentucky tracks in an attempt to make sure horses remain healthy. Horses will now be allowed only four starts during a rolling eight-week period and horses that are beaten by more than 12 lengths in five consecutive starts will be ineligible to race until the equine medical director approves their return to racing. But there are no answers and many questions as to why thoroughbred race horses are dying in Kentucky.

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Rich Strike, front right, with Sonny Leon aboard, wins the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 7, 2022, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)