HomeSportsEighth horse dies at Churchill Downs following 2023 Kentucky Derby

Eighth horse dies at Churchill Downs following 2023 Kentucky Derby

by Barkley Truax
(Photo by Erick W. Rasco/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

A grim week at Churchill Downs leading up to the 149th running of the Kentucky Derby saw seven horses euthanized due to various injury concerns. Now, an eighth horse has died at the world’s most famous track since April 29.

Three-year-old Rio Moon suffered a “catastrophic injury to his left foreleg,” in the moments following a race in Louisville on Sunday, according to the New York Post.

Freezing Point, Wild on Ice, Take Charge Briana, Code of Kings, Parent Pride, Chasing Artie and Chloe’s Dream are the seven other horses that lost their lives leading up to the Run for the Roses.

“When horses die unexpectedly, we all suffer. But we take comfort in the tools and practices we have collectively developed to investigate contributing factors. [We will] deploy those learnings to minimize future risk,” Lisa Lazarus, CEO of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, told AP. “HISA also intends to conduct its own in-depth analysis of the fatalities. [They] will share those findings once the full investigation is complete.”

Take Charge Briana and Derby entrant Wild On Ice were both euthanized after sustaining injuries while training/racing. Code of Kings broke his neck in a saddling paddock. He was euthanized early on Derby Day. Chloe’s Dream and Freezing Point were ridden by Corey Lanerie on Saturday. Both were forced to veer from the track during their respective races and euthanized following their own injuries.

Parent Pride and Chasing Artie’s cause of euthanization has not been released. The situation is being investigated by Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. No further information has been released as of this report.

Suspension of Saffie Joseph Jr. coincides with unexplained horse deaths 

Thoroughbred trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. was the talk of Churchill Downs throughout Derby week. He was suspended indefinitely by the racetrack in connection with the deaths of two of his horses. Joseph had all of his horses scratched from races at the track. That included his would-be Derby horse Lord Miles.

The suspension was brought down following the two euthanizations of Parent Pride and Chasing Artie. Their deaths occurred following their respective races this week leading up to the Kentucky Derby. They are the only two where the cause of death has not been revealed.

“For the betterment of racing, the health and welfare of our equine athletes and the safety of our jockeys, all horses trained by trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. are scratched effective immediately and until further notice,” the Board of Stewards wrote in a statement.