Officials from the Churchill Downs racetrack, the home of the famed Kentucky Derby, have described the recent deaths of four horses as “unacceptable” and “troubling.”
The four race horses have died in separate incidents within a five-day stretch.
Since the start of Kentucky Derby week – on April 29 – two horses died suddenly from unknown causes at the track according to officials.
Parents Pride died on Saturday and Chasing Artie on Tuesday. Both equines were trained by Saffie Joseph Jr.
“People who don’t come to the track don’t see the passionate care of these horses,” Joseph told CNN on Thursday.
“Right now, I don’t know why this has happened, which makes us uneasy. I am uneasy and broken.”
Joseph told CNN the investigation into the deaths has found “no significant findings yet.”
A spokesperson for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) didn’t address Joseph’s comments when asked about the investigation and initial findings.
The KHRC provided a statement, which said the investigation is active and post-mortem examinations will be performed at the University of Kentucky. No timetable was provided.
Joseph also trains the colt Lord Miles which is entered in the Kentucky Derby. When asked about any extra care given to his horse, Joseph told CNN that “extra blood work has been done to make sure nothing is being missed.”
The 149th Derby, the first horse race in the coveted Triple Crown, is set to run Saturday in Louisville, Kentucky.
According to Churchill Downs, two other horses died after suffering musculoskeletal injuries. Wild on Ice, a Derby contender, was hurt while training last Thursday and Take Charge Briana was injured in a race on Tuesday. Both were “euthanized for humane reasons.”
In a Wednesday statement, officials said: “While a series of events like this is highly unusual, it is completely unacceptable. We take this very seriously and acknowledge that these troubling incidents are alarming and must be addressed.”
Churchill Downs said it was “working with regulators to conduct swift and thorough investigations.”
“The safety and well-being of horses is a critical issue for which everyone in the industry shares responsibility; however, we will continue to take every measure to ensure that we are providing the safest possible environment for horses on our property,” added the Churchill Downs statement.