Churchill Downs, the home of Kentucky Derby racing, suspends races after 12 horses are killed

Churchill Downs announced Friday it was suspending racing as safety measures are reexamined following the deaths of a dozen horses at the famed track in the past month.

Churchill Downs announced on Friday that it would suspend racing until safety measures were reexamined in light of the death of 12 horses at the track over the last month.

Churchill Downs Incorporated said in a press release that the track’s Spring Meet will be held at another Kentucky venue owned by it, Ellis Park Racing & Gaming, in Henderson. The season ends on July 3.

The Triple Crown race for 2023 will be concluded on June 11 with the Belmont Stakes, which takes place at Belmont Park, Elmont, New York.

The track stated that racing at Churchill Downs would cease following the weekend’s races, and continue at Ellis Racetrack on June 10.

On May 27, the track, which is home to the Kentucky Derby, announced that two horses had passed away. The 11th horse and 12th horse to die in the spring season.

The venue investigated track surface conditions but found no red-flags. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority have also conducted investigations.

Churchill Downs Incorporated stated in a statement on Friday that “no single factor has yet been identified as the potential cause, and no discernible pattern has been detected linking the deaths.”

Churchill Downs ahead of the 149th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 6, 2023 in Louisville.

Michael Reaves / Getty Images

The parent company stated that it would suspend racing to test the safety measures.

CDI said that “even though investigations and expert reports indicated no surface problems, CDI chose to relocate the event in order to conduct an exhaustive review of safety protocols and surface protocols.”

Animal welfare groups condemned the deaths and called for tracks to improve their conditions.

Wayne Pacelle of Animal Wellness Action said that horse welfare should be the top priority of Churchill Downs, and other racetracks, in a press release just before the Kentucky Derby.

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