The preparations for the Kentucky Derby are at their peak – but unfortunate events overshadowed the preparations and excitement about this event. Four horses died at Churchill Downs in five days, and a tragedy left everyone devastated.

A huge tragedy:

Saffie Joseph Jr. trained two of the dead horses, 4-year-old Parents Pride and 5-year-old Chasing Artie. Both of them collapsed on the track, and shortly after that, they died: Parents Pride on Saturday and Chasing Artie on Tuesday. Another two horses died as a result of training or racing. Among them is Wild On Ice, one of the trainees of the Derby, who was trained by Joel Marr. This horse and another one, 3-year-old Take Charge Briana, trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, experienced some severe musculoskeletal injuries. They were taken to hospital but had to be euthanized.

Joseph has been planning on competing in the Derby on Lord Miles. He was supposed to compete in the first jewel of the Triple Crown, which will be held on Saturday. However, after these unfortunate events, the plans might have changed, as Joseph claims. 

Everyone is devastated, and everyone seeks answers. Churchill Downs Racetrack said they’re deeply concerned, and they’re determined to find the cause of these deaths. They commented: “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.”

Uncertainty is the worst:

The authorities will further investigate these cases. So far, it’s known that the blood work was normal during the last check, as Joseph stated.

He commented: “When you don’t know something, that’s when it worries you the most. Something is wrong. A lot of thoughts run through your head, but you can drive yourself insane. But I’m very uneasy right now. It’s not something I would wish on anybody.”

These deaths are a sad reminiscence of the death of 42 horses in Santa Anita Park in California in 2019. That happened before the reforms were established – and it seems something similar is happening again.

CEO of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, Lisa Lazarus, said: “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 said, adding the organization is in contact with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and Churchill Downs. “HISA also intends to conduct its own in-depth analysis of the fatalities and will share those findings once the full investigation is complete.”