My Old Kentucky Home is being temporarily condemned while officials try to figure out why a dozen horses have died in the past month.
Churchill Downs, home of the most famous horse race on the planet, The Kentucky Derby, has had a sad, embarrassing rash of deaths on the track since shortly before the May Derby.
In the wake of the latest deaths, the remainder of the Spring racing meet is being moved to Ellis Park Racing & Gaming in Henderson, Kentucky. It is an embarrassing black eye for both Churchill and the sport.
Horse racing has come under increasing fire from animal rights activists, and the Derby in particular, has been pressured to stop playing “My Old Kentucky Home” because of long-removed slave imagery. To their credit, they haven’t bowed to the woke mobs.
Churchill Downs has suspended racing following the deaths of 12 horses leading up to and after the Kentucky Derby. pic.twitter.com/pmW24kaQzO
— Front Office Sports (@FOS) June 2, 2023
However, with the rash of deaths, animal rights groups simply get more ammunition, so the track has cessed racing until things get figured out.
The track said in a statement:
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“No single factor has been identified as a potential cause and no discernable pattern has been detected to link the fatalities,”
“Even though the investigations and expert reports have indicated no surface issues, CDI has elected to relocate the meet in order to conduct a top-to-bottom review of all safety and surface protocols,” it said.
It is a tough break, no pun intended, for Churchill. The racing industry has had doping scandals and had big named trainers like Bob Baffert suspended for scandals involving their horses in recent years. In a sport where so much money changes hands, integrity is a must. If there is any sense of impropriety, fans will stop plucking down their money. Just look to professional boxing as an example.
Animal welfare groups also predictably chimed in:
Animal welfare organizations decried the deaths and urged tracks to improve conditions.
“It should be a top priority for Churchill Downs and all other tracks to make horse welfare their top priority,” Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action, said in a statement just ahead of the Kentucky Derby in May.
It is well advised that Churchill cease racing until a reason for the fatalities is determined. Racing is supposed to be an exciting diversion from all of the death and craziness outside the walls. When a horse has to be euthanized on the track, even though you don’t see it, you know what is happening, and it is sobering and heartbreaking.
If this can happen at the most famous track in the world, imagine the potential damage for smaller, less profitable tracks.
The track, home of the Kentucky Derby, reported on May 27 that two more horses had died. They were the 11th and 12th horses to die during the spring season.
The venue probed track surface conditions but found no red flags. There have also been probes conducted by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority.
Hopefully, the experts and engineers can determine the problem and fix it before the fall meet. Churchill is the prize jewel for horse racing, and if went away fro any extended period of time, the sport would suffer immeasurable damage.