A racehorse trainer has been suspended indefinitely Churchill DownsInc. (CDI), the company operating the well-known kentucky derbyamid an investigation into the “extremely unusual sudden death”; of two of them horses,
Two horses, Parent’s Pride and Chasing Artie, died at Churchill Downs namesake racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday and Tuesday, respectively. Both were coached by 36-year-old Saifi Joseph Jr. and both collapsed on the track and died after competing in the race.
Joseph’s horses are not the only unusual deaths that have put pressure on Churchill Downs in final preparations for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby. Four horses have died on the racetrack in the space of just five days.
Youssef’s suspension was handed down Thursday, and it will affect one of his horses that was set to run in the Kentucky Derby. The Lord Miles would be withdrawn from the race, the first of three events to make up the prestigious Triple Crown.
“CDI’s decision follows the highly unusual sudden death of two horses trained by Joseph at Churchill Downs Racetrack,” the company statement reads.
The suspension “prohibits Joseph, or any trainer employed directly or indirectly by Joseph, from entering horses in races or applying for stall occupancy at all CDI-owned racetracks,” the company said.
“Given the unexplained sudden deaths, we have reasonable concern about the condition of their horses, and have decided to suspend them indefinitely until the details are analyzed and understood,” said Bill Mudd, said CDI President and Chief Operating Officer.
“The safety of our equine and human athletes and the integrity of our sport is our top priority. We feel these measures are our duty and responsibility,” he said.
Investigators have yet to find a cause for the deaths of two of Joseph’s horses, which occurred over a 72-hour period. Meanwhile, two other racehorses also died at Churchill Downs last week: Wild on Ice and Take Charge Briana.
Wild On Ice, a longshot Derby contender, was injured during training on April 27, while the 3-year-old filly Take Charge Briana was injured in Tuesday’s race. The CDI said the two racehorses were “euthanized for humane reasons” after suffering musculoskeletal injuries.
Two other horses threw their practice riders during on-track training on Thursday, which also included Derby entrant verification. No riders were injured.
After learning about this suspension, Joseph told local WDRB that they believe they are being unfairly accused by CDI.
“I am the scapegoat,” he said on Thursday. “They’ve had more deaths this week, and here’s Saifi, that’s the problem.”
“I’ve never had horses before that died of an (unknown) issue. They’ve had injuries but never from something that was unknown.’
Joseph said earlier on Thursday that he had been questioned by investigators from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) and Churchill Downs.
“They found no wrongdoing on our part,” he said at the time.
According to the Daily Racing Form, Joseph received permission from the KHRC to scratch five horses from the races on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. He already had a scratch on Wednesday. He told reporters earlier in the day that he spayed any horses that had been in contact with the two who died out of caution.
Despite the deaths, Joseph planned to run for Lord Miles in Derby. The colt came from Florida. The two dead horses were at Keeneland in Lexington.
Joseph, a third-generation trainer, said Thursday that investigators examined his barn, checked the horses’ veterinary records and took blood samples from each of his horses, which showed nothing unusual. The forage, hay, straw and supplements used by the horses were also examined.
This is the first death for Joseph, who came to Florida in 2011 after training in his native Barbados.
“It crushes you. It hurts your confidence, it makes you doubt everything,” he said.
At the same time, he said, “There are two ways: You can run away from it and pretend it didn’t happen or you can face it and find out what we can do.”
The industry was rocked in 2019, when more than 40 horses died at a horse ranch in Santa Anita, California. As a result, a series of security reforms were implemented that spread across the country.
“The horses get a lot of care and we do our best to prevent things like this, but they still happen,” Joseph said. “A lot of times in those sudden deaths you never get the answers.”
With files from The Associated Press
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