Churchill Downs suspends racing amid probe into 12 horse deaths in Louisville, Ky.
No common denominator found among fatalities from April 27 through May 27
Churchill Downs is suspending all racing while the track's parent company continues to investigate safety measures and protocols following the deaths of 12 horses earlier this year, it announced Friday.
The current thoroughbred meet will continue through Sunday before being moved June 10 to Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky., two hours away from the home of the Kentucky Derby in Louisville.
Churchill Downs Inc. has not found a common denominator among the fatalities that occurred from April 27 through May 27, it said in a statement.
"The team at Churchill Downs takes great pride in our commitment to safety and strives to set the highest standard in racing, consistently going above and beyond the regulations and policies that are required," Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bill Carstanjen said in a news release. "What has happened at our track is deeply upsetting and absolutely unacceptable.
"Despite our best efforts to identify a cause for the recent horse injuries, and though no issues have been linked to our racing surfaces or environment at Churchill Downs, we need to take more time to conduct a top-to-bottom review of all of the details and circumstances so that we can further strengthen our surface, safety and integrity protocols.
The news comes one day after Churchill Downs held a special meeting with track officials and horsemen, which produced a set of new safety initiatives designed to prevent equine injuries.
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Those measures included pausing "track-based incentives" that give trainers bonuses for horses' starts, as well as limiting payouts to the top five finishers instead of every race finisher through last place.
Horses will also be restricted to four starts during a rolling eight-week period to keep them from being overworked. The racetrack also announced "ineligibility standards." A horse beaten by more than 12 lengths in five straight starts will be ineligible until the track's equine medical director approves the horse for return.
Two of the 12 equine fatalities at Churchill Downs occurred on the undercard of the Kentucky Derby on May 6.