Churchill Downs Inc., which owns the Louisville-based track, says remaining meets will be moved to Ellis Park Racing and Gaming, located in Henderson, Kentucky. CDI says transitioning Spring Meet races will begin June 7.
Since the “unusual” number of horse deaths at the race track, Churchill conducted an inspection and jointly announced new safety measures with the Horseracing Integrity & Safety Authority.
“What has happened at our track is deeply upsetting and absolutely unacceptable,” CDI CEO Bill Carstanjen said in a statement. “Despite our best efforts to identify a cause for the recent horse injuries, and though no issues have been linked to our racing surfaces or environment at Churchill Downs, we need to take more time to conduct a top-to-bottom review of all of the details and circumstances so that we can further strengthen our surface, safety and integrity protocols.”
A Kentucky Horse Racing Commission representative told WEHT that Churchill Downs requested the move out of an abundance of caution and that the commission’s working with both CDI and HISA to investigate the fatalities.
On Friday, PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo said the organization was “relieved” that CDI made the decision to suspend races at the Louisville track — though expressed doubts over changing venues as a solution.
“… PETA has been calling for [suspension of races] since May 2, but Churchill Downs must not play Russian roulette with these horses’ lives by simply shifting the problem elsewhere. Putting the bullet in a different chamber could have the same lethal outcome.”
Guillermo says PETA is frustrated at the racing industry’s “refusal” to implement technology that has before proven to save lives.
“Until race tracks install synthetic surfaces and utilize CT scanning equipment to detect injuries, among other improvements, they can’t pretend to be mystified by fatalities,” she states.
Track officials say they will continue to thoroughly investigate safety measures while horses race at Ellis Park. The Spring Meet is scheduled to run through July 3.