Churchill Downs Racetrack announced new safety initiatives and precautionary measures Thursday after a special meeting between track officials and horsemen based at Churchill Downs and Trackside Training Center Louisville.
That meeting followed an emergency summit called by the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority earlier this week to examine the track surface and meet with veterinarians from HISA, Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission after 12 horses who raced and trained at the track died since April 27.
The Thursday morning meeting included a presentation by California-based equine surgeon Dr. Ryan Carpenter, who provided educational information and tools to trainers and practicing veterinarians about advanced interventions that can be considered for certain equine injuries.
“The attending veterinarians and trainers at Churchill Downs are incredibly capable and knowledgeable,” said Dr. Will Farmer, equine medical director for Churchill Downs Inc. “We feel a duty to provide the latest information on surgical interventions from an expert who experienced the challenges in California a few years ago that we currently face today. Any decision must be made first and foremost with the long-term well-being of the horse in mind. It is imperative that all available, educated and informed options can be efficiently, confidently and thoroughly relayed to the owners.”
Additional Churchill Downs initiatives announced at Thursday’s meeting included:
A pause of track-based incentives such as trainer start bonuses and purse pay-out allocations to every race finisher through last place. Purse pay-outs now will be limited to the top five finishers. Churchill Downs is engaged in ongoing discussions with horsemen to determine ways to reallocate these funds to best serve industry needs.
Restricting the number of starts per horse to four starts during a rolling eight-week period.
Ineligibility standards for poor performance. Horses that are beaten by more than 12 lengths in five consecutive starts will be ineligible to race at Churchill Downs until approved by the equine medical director to return.
These additional initiatives will go into effect immediately.