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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Churchill Downs To Resume Racing Without Answers For Horse Deaths

  • Internal safety review fails to pinpoint specific cause for horse deaths
  • Resumption of racing will end a suspension of more than three months
Horses-racing-at-Churchill-Downs
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Churchill Downs racing is set to return in September, but there’s still no definitive answer for the cause of this spring’s spate of horse deaths — and one might never arrive.

On Monday, officials for Churchill Downs Inc. said that live racing at the famed Kentucky racetrack will resume Sept. 14, ending a suspension of more than three months precipitated by one of the deadliest Triple Crowns ever, in which 15 horses died.

The resumption of scheduled racing arrives with a series of new health protocols, including increased veterinary oversight, the creation of a new safety management committee, additional track surface testing, and continued collaboration with the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority.

But a clear diagnosis of what led to the deaths never emerged from the internal safety review. Churchill Downs said “analysis by multiple leading experts found no issues with the racing surfaces” — and more broadly, no significant issues with the facilities or differences from prior years.

“That [lack of solid answers], in a sense, can sometimes be unsatisfying,” said Bill Carstanjen, Churchill Downs Inc. CEO. “But that’s business, and that’s sports. We just have to commit to continually doing everything we can.”

While racing at Churchill Downs has been on pause this summer, ambitious plans for a new paddock construction project were unveiled, and the company reported record net revenue.

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