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Churchill Downs has suspended horse trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. indefinitely after two horses he was training at the track over the last few days. The news comes after an investigation was launched into the death of the two horses.
Joseph was the trainer of Chasing Artie and Parents Pride. Both horses collapsed and died on the track Thursday and Saturday, respectively, after races at Churchill Downs.
Churchill Downs called the deaths of Joseph’s trained horses “unexplained.”
“Given the unexplained sudden deaths, we have reasonable concerns about the condition of his horses, and decided to suspend him indefinitely until details are analyzed and understood,” Bill Mudd, president and chief operating officer of Churchill Downs Incorporated, said in a statement. “The safety of our equine and human athletes and integrity of our sport is our highest priority. We feel these measures are our duty and responsibility.”
According to Joseph, investigators examined his barn, checked the horses’ veterinary records, and took blood samples from each of his horses, which showed nothing abnormal. The feed, hay, and supplements provided to the horses were examined as well.
Joseph was stunned after Chasing Artie and Parents Pride passed away.
“This is something that doesn’t happen. I’m shattered, basically, because I know it can’t happen,” the trainer told USA Today. “The odds of it happening twice is in the trillions. I run almost 4,000 horses and it never happened. It doesn’t make sense.”
Four horses in total have died in the lead-up to this weekend’s Kentucky Derby after Wild On Ice and Take Charge Brian were euthanized recently after picking up injuries at Churchill Downs.