2 More Horses Die on Derby Day

Toll is now at 7 at Churchill Downs
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 6, 2023 3:05 PM CDT
Updated May 6, 2023 5:20 PM CDT
'Cruel Part' of Racing Hits Derby
Spectators sit on a bench Saturday at Churchill Downs.   (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

This story has been updated with the death of another racehorse. The Kentucky Derby lost its early favorite Saturday when Forte was scratched and two more horses died at Churchill Downs, further blows to a sport reeling from a series of doping suspensions and breakdowns. "This is part of racing, and it's the cruel part," Mike Repole, co-owner of Forte, told FanDuel TV. Forte was the fifth scratch in the days leading up to the $3 million race for 3-year-olds. Chloe's Dream, a 3-year-old gelding, and Freezing Point, a 3-year-old colt, were injured in their races on the Derby undercard, becoming the sixth and seventh horses to have died at Churchill Downs in recent days. The string of horse deaths cast a pall for some fans on a mostly cloudy and warm day, the AP reports.

"It's concerning, and I hope they're quickly trying the best they can to correct whatever's going on," said Michael Freeze, who along with his friend dressed up as jockeys. "They need to do whatever is best for the horses, and the sport in general." Chloe's Dream got hurt in the second race Saturday. The horse was taken off in an equine ambulance with a right front knee injury and was euthanized. "He just took a bad step out there," trainer Jeff Hiles said. "They could do the same thing running in the field as they could on the track. So it's very unfortunate. That's what we deal with."

New antidoping and medication rules enforced by a central governing body of the sport are scheduled to take effect May 22. "There’s something going on," said Pat Murtha, who was attending his first Derby. "They need to find out, and set some rules and regulations to protect these animals." Forte had been the early 3-1 favorite; his absence reduces the field to 18 horses for the 1¼-mile race. Repole said veterinarians from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission diagnosed Forte with a bruised foot. He said the colt had developed the bruise a few days ago. Forte stumbled during a workout Thursday, per the AP, though trainer Todd Pletcher had played it down publicly. A crowd of about 150,000 is expected to jam Churchill Downs to wager and watch the Derby. Post time is 6:57pm EDT.

(More Kentucky Derby stories.)

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