Emergency summit will address Churchill Downs fatalities

Emergency summit will address Churchill Downs fatalities
Photo: Mary M. Meek/Eclipse Sportswire

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Administration will hold what it called an emergency veterinary summit Tuesday at Churchill Downs as one of three measures to address recent horse fatalities at the Louisville, Ky., track.

On Saturday, 7-year-old mare Kimberley Dream became the 12th horse since April 27 to die after racing or training at the track. All but two of the horses were euthanized after suffering injuries. The other two, trained by Saffie Joseph Jr., died after collapsing on the track, one during a race and the other after a race.

Following was the HISA statement Monday outlining its plans to address the situation.

"HISA’s highest priority is the safety and wellbeing of the horses and riders competing under its jurisdiction. We remain deeply concerned by the unusually high number of equine fatalities at Churchill Downs over the last several weeks. We continue to seek answers, and we are working diligently with Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to mitigate any additional risk.

"In addition to conducting a thorough and independent investigation of each fatality, HISA today announced the following additional measures to ensure the safest environment possible for horses racing at Churchill Downs:

"1. HISA has called an emergency veterinary summit to be held Tuesday, May 30, in Kentucky. This summit will convene the Churchill Downs, KHRC and HISA veterinary teams to thoroughly review all veterinary information available and conduct additional analysis in hopes of better understanding the events surrounding the recent fatalities.

"2. HISA has dispatched well-renowned, seasoned track superintendent Dennis Moore to provide a second and independent analysis of Churchill Downs’ racing and training surfaces. During the course of this review, which will begin Wednesday, May 31, HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus and racetrack safety director Ann McGovern will also travel to Churchill Downs to receive the results of the analysis and any suggested follow-up.

"3. HISA has also dispatched its director of equine safety and welfare, Dr. Jennifer Durenberger, to provide additional veterinary expertise and observation on site at Churchill Downs to ensure optimal veterinary oversight of the horses.

"HISA continues to monitor this situation closely and will evaluate any additional next steps as appropriate."

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