Eight horses have now died at Churchill Downs since April 27. Rio Moon became the latest fatality after injuring his front leg at the finish of Race 6 on Sunday. The three-year-old colt was euthanized later that day.
Rio Moon was trained by Dale Romans and ridden by Martin Garcia.
The first five horse deaths at Churchill Downs happened in the week leading up to the 149th Kentucky Derby. Two more died on the day of the Kentucky Derby. Those latter two horses, Chloe's Dream and Freezing Point, were also euthanized after injuries "in the interest of pursuing the most humane treatment for each horse," as stated by a press release from the track.
"While each incident reported has been unique, it is important to note that there has been no discernable pattern detected in the injuries sustained," representatives of Churchill Downs said on May 6, the day of the Kentucky Derby. "Our track surfaces are closely monitored by industry experts to ensure their integrity.
"Each horse that participates in racing at Churchill Downs must undergo multiple, comprehensive veterinarian exams and observations to ensure their fitness to race."
The track stated they were committing to work with the Kentucky Horseracing Commission (KHRC) and the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) to investigate if there was any underlying health or environmental causes for the recent horse deaths.
Two of the horses that are part of the investigation, Parents Pride and Chasing Artie, collapsed and died after racing at the famous Louisville track without a clear cause. They were both owned by Ken Ramsey, trained by Saffie Joseph Jr. and had Luis Saez as their jockey. Although their deaths are still a mystery, Joseph was suspended indefinitely by Churchill Downs.
Another horse, Wild on Ice, was one of the horses on the starters list for the Kentucky Derby. He got injured while training on dirt and was ultimately euthanized the week before the race.
The eight horses who've died at the track in recent weeks are:
- Wild on Ice
- Take Charge Briana
- Code of Kings
- Parents Pride
- Chasing Artie
- Chloe's Dream
- Freezing Point
- Rio Moon