Ninth horse dies at Churchill Downs in span of less than a month

Nine horses have now died at the famed Churchill Downs since April 27.

Swanson Lake, a horse trained by Mike McCarthy, suffered an inoperable leg injury after finishing fourth in her race at the Louisville track.

The horse was vanned off the track before doctors opted to euthanize her.

From April 27 to the Kentucky Derby on May 6, seven horses died from either injuries or collapsing on the track. Two of those horses died in the undercard of the Derby, and another one, Wild on Ice, was supposed to run in the race that was won by Mage.


Trainer Bob Baffert returned from his two-year suspension on Saturday – he had been barred from the sport following a positive drug test on the original winner of the 2021 Derby, Medina Spirit. The horse was disqualified from the race and died that December.

In his return, one of his horses died during the Preakness Stakes undercard.

Havnameltdown sustained a “non-operable left fore fetlock” injury at Pimlico, and doctors made the decision to put the horse down.


Baffert’s day turned out to be quite the roller coaster, as he is the trainer of National Treasure, which won the Preakness Stakes on Saturday. It was Baffert’s 17th Triple Crown victory and eighth at the Preakness.

Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. was indefinitely suspended by Churchill Downs during Derby week after two of his horses collapsed on the track and died. Kentucky racing officials also scratched his Derby entry, Lord Miles.

Todd Pletcher was also suspended as a result of a positive drug test taken on Forte, the morningline favorite for the Derby that was scratched with an injury just hours before the race.

PETA previously called Churchill Downs a “killing field” and even called for the banning of Baffert prior to the Preakness.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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