Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. has requested his horses be scratched through Friday, according to Kristin Voskuhl, a spokesperson for the Public Protection Cabinet, which oversees the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. The request was approved by the stewards.
He was scheduled to start the 8-5 favorite in Thursday’s third race, Concrete Glory (Bodemeister), who has now been scratched. The trainer has seven entered on Derby Day, including Lord Miles (Curlin) in the Kentucky Derby.
“The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission is actively investigating the recent and tragic racing and training fatalities in Kentucky. The KHRC is committed to the health and safety of every horse and rider and will follow the robust investigative procedures in place for issues of safety and racing integrity,” wrote Voskuhl.
After Churchill Downs issued a statement Wednesday following five equine fatalities at the facility on the eve of the track’s biggest annual weekend of racing, representatives for the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (HISA) and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) issued their own respective statements in response to questions by the TDN.
Kentucky Derby hopeful Wild On Ice (Tapizar) suffered a fatal hind-end injury on April 27 after a work. Take Charge Briana (Curlin) broke down in the fifth race over the Churchill turf course Tuesday.
Parents Pride (Maclean’s Music) and Chasing Artie (We Miss Artie),–both owned by Ken Ramsey and trained by Joseph—suffered sudden death events, the former after being eased mid-race Saturday, and the latter on his way back to the unsaddling enclosure Tuesday.
Code of Kings was scratched from the 10th race late on Saturday night after breaking his neck flipping in Churchill’s temporary paddock, as reported by the DRF.
The KHRC failed to answer questions about how long the post-mortem examinations will take, and if the findings will be made public—what is typically not the case.
The musculoskeletal and sudden death necropsies are being performed at the University of Kentucky. “Both types of necropsy are complete post-mortem examinations. Musculoskeletal necropsies focus on a known injury, while sudden death necropsies are broader in scope,” Voskuhl wrote.
While HISA’s anti-doping and medication control (ADMC) program won’t begin until May 22, the federal law’s racetrack safety program went into effect on July 1 last year.
This program requires tracks to adhere to a baseline set of racetrack welfare and safety rules, including the retention of a core group of safety and welfare personnel and racetrack surface maintenance protocols.
HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus issued a statement Wednesday evening writing that there is “nothing more important” to HISA than the welfare of both horse and rider.
“When horses die unexpectedly, we all suffer, but we take comfort in the tools and practices we have collectively developed to investigate contributing factors and deploy those learnings to minimize future risk,” Lazarus wrote.
Lazarus added: “HISA’s Racetrack Safety Program mandates that we work alongside state regulators and racetrack operators to protect our equine and human athletes. We are in contact with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and Churchill Downs to support their processes. HISA also intends to conduct its own in-depth analysis of the fatalities and will share those findings once the full investigation is complete.”