Kentucky Derby At Stake After 4 Horses Mysteriously Die Leading Up To The Race

Kentucky Derby horse galloping around

Getty Image / Andy Lyons

The Kentucky Derby is known as one of the biggest horse racing events in the world, but this year’s race has a major shadow hanging above the event.

Numerous horses and riders, along with the owners, are already at Churchill Downs preparing for the big race.

However, the past six days have been incredibly difficult for the Kentucky Derby after four horses mysteriously die, per Sports Illustrated.

Two horses suffered serious leg injuries and had to be put down. Meanwhile, two other horses, both owned by Ken Ramsey, collapsed and died on the track.

Nobody is sure why, but trainer Saffie Joseph demands answers.

“It shatters me. The odds of that happening twice, it doesn’t add up. Theories aren’t going to help anything. We need facts. Twice, in three days? First two runners [of the Churchill spring meet]? Same owner [Ken Ramsey]? It’s mind-boggling.”

All four horses died in separate incidences all within a five-day span, per Sports Illustrated.

“Derby contender Wild on Ice, trained by Joel Marr, suffered a fatal hind leg injury last Thursday; Joseph trainee Parents Pride went down after the eighth race on Churchill’s opening night Saturday; filly Take Charge Briana, trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, fell in the stretch during a turf race Tuesday and was euthanized; then later in the race card Chasing Artie also collapsed and died in front of the grandstand.”

The sudden death of these four horses has Saffie Joseph seriously considering pulling the remainder of his horses from the Kentucky Derby.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do. I have to decide whether we’re going to scratch them or not. I’m very uneasy right now.”

Clearly, these deaths have rattled the trainer to his core, as there are no clear answers for the two horses that suddenly collapsed on the track.

Sports Illustrated also reports that Joseph, “received a 15-day drug suspension from the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission in March.” That may, or may not be related, but it’s something important to note.

Additionally, Saffie Joseph claims he and his team are doing everything possible to find the cause of what transpired at the Kentucky Derby.

“All bloods are coming back good. We’re testing feed, hay, supplements [to] see if there’s anything on our part. A lot of thoughts run through your head, but you think too much and you can drive yourself insane.”

Churchill Downs released a statement regarding the four deaths leading up to the Kentucky Derby, per Sports Illustrated.

“While a series of events like this is highly unusual, it is completely unacceptable. We take this very seriously and acknowledge that these troubling incidents are alarming and must be addressed. We feel a tremendous responsibility to our fans, the participants in our sport and the entire industry to be a leader in safety and continue to make significant investments to eliminate risk to our athletes. We have full confidence in our racing surfaces and have been assured by our riders and horsemen that they do as well.”

Churchill Downs also announces that “Each horse was transported to the University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostics Lab for complete necropsies. We continue to press for answers and are working with regulators to conduct swift and thorough investigations.”

For now, the cause of death is a mystery. Hopefully, the necropsies can find he cause of death soon.

The Kentucky Derby is set to take place on May 6, but this dark cloud hovering over the race makes the event rather grim.