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KHRC: No Common Variable in Recent Equine Fatalities

KTDF purses will now be limited to first through fifth place.

Racing at Churchill Downs

Racing at Churchill Downs

Skip Dickstein

Following a spate of equine fatalities at Churchill Downs this spring, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission issued the following release June 2:

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission takes the safety of all racing participants very seriously. The increased number of horse fatalities in Kentucky is concerning and the KHRC's veteran team continues to explore every known variable that could possibly be contributing factors in these deaths.

Working daily with Churchill Downs and the Horseracing Safety Authority, the KHRC has taken the following actions:

  • Opened an investigation into every horse fatality
  • Interviewed jockeys, trainers, owners, grooms and backside workers regarding safety concerns and observations
  • Increased pre-race scrutiny on every horse for racing soundness
  • Participated in roundtable discussions with Churchill Downs' veterinary team, track superintendents and track executives looking for any recurring factor in the incidents.
  • Reached out to California Horse Racing Board Executive Director Scott Chaney for best practices in the event of a rash of equine fatalities
  • Participated in the HISA emergency summit and shared details of daily workouts, investigative interviews
  • Created an executive-level safety steward position to coordinate daily track safety measures. Job details will be posted at when available. 

Out of an abundance of caution and effective June 7 Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund purses will be limited to first through fifth-place finishers.

All investigations opened after April 29 are ongoing, but so far have not identified a common variable between these recent fatalities. The KHRC has not received necropsy reports from the University of Kentucky for any horse fatality after May 2. Once necropsies are completed and blood analysis is returned, the KHRC veterinary team takes a comprehensive look at all known factors that contributed to that death and compiles those results in a mortality review. As these reviews are completed, they will be made public and posted to the KHRC website.

Each completed mortality review will be shared with HISA for further review and recommendations.

On June 2, 2022, the KHRC entered a voluntary agreement with HISA that grants them authority to oversee racetrack safety. On March 21 of this year, the KHRC entered a voluntary agreement with HISA's Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program.

With these agreements in effect, the KHRC has authority to suspend a license for any violation that threatens the integrity of Kentucky horse racing or the KHRC's ability to protect the racing public except where HISA has preempted state regulations in the areas of 1) track safety, and 2) the ADMC Program. If a track had violations related to either of these areas, HISA would have jurisdiction.

This press release has been edited for content and style by BloodHorse Staff.