Churchill Downs to be back on ‘trot’-track


Churchill Downs to resume racing Image: Kentucky Derby, Steve Ryan, CC BY-SA 2.0

The Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky (US), home of the Kentucky Derby, said recently that the racetrack will resume live horse racing on September 14th after the implementation of new safety measures.

‘CBS NEWS’ stated that the announcement followed a temporary suspension of racing in June after 12 horse deaths took place in the span of one month at the famed racetrack. Race operations at the Churchill Downs ceased on June 7th and were moved to the Ellis Park in Henderson, Kentucky (US).

The 165,000-capacity Churchill Downs is a horse racing complex located on Central Avenue in South Louisville, Kentucky, United States, famed for hosting the annual Kentucky Derby. It officially opened in 1875 and was named after Samuel Churchill, whose family was prominent in Kentucky for many years.

The Kentucky Derby is an American Grade I stakes race run at the Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky (US). The race is run by three-year-old Thoroughbreds at a distance of 1+1⁄4 miles, the first time horses in the field race that distance. The colts and geldings carry 126 pounds and fillies 121 pounds.

The 6,000-capacity Ellis Park is a thoroughbred racetrack near Henderson, Kentucky, just South of Evansville, Indiana (US). It is owned and operated by the Churchill Downs Incorporated.

Louisville (US)-based the Churchill Downs Incorporated is the parent company of Churchill Downs. The company has evolved from one racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky, to a multi American-Statewide, publicly-traded company with racetracks, casinos and an online wagering company among its portfolio of businesses.

‘CBS NEWS’ further stated that the resumption of racing came after an internal safety review led to the racetrack implementing several new measures to “ensure the safety and well-being of equine and human athletes”, Churchill Downs said.

The measures include infrastructural upgrades, including new surface maintenance equipment and greater surface testing, increased veterinary oversight for additional monitoring and care for horses and the establishment of a new safety management committee “consisting of horsemen designees, racetrack employees and veterinarians to candidly discuss concerns and observations”, the racetrack said.

Enthused Bill Carstanjen, head honcho of Churchill Downs Incorporated, “We are excited to resume live racing again at Churchill Downs. Our commitment to safety remains paramount as we enter this September meet and our participants, fans and the public can be assured that we will continue to investigate, evaluate and improve upon every policy and protocol.”

The company noted in June that even though investigations had determined “no single factor has been identified as a potential cause and no discernable pattern has been detected to link the fatalities”, the racetrack still needed to be closed.

“What has happened at our track is deeply upsetting and absolutely unacceptable”, Carstanjen said in June, after Churchill Downs suffered what it called a spate of “highly unusual” and “completely unacceptable” equine deaths in May. Four horses died in the opening of the Kentucky Derby week. Two of the horses died from unknown causes when they both suddenly collapsed after completing races.

Five others were euthanized after training and racing incidents at the track in the days leading up to the Derby.

All 12 horses were put down after suffering serious injuries on the racetrack.

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