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Kentucky Derby scratches and horse deaths at Churchill Downs: What we know

It’s been a week of baffling Kentucky Derby for horse deaths, injuries and race scratches at Churchill Downs.

Five entries for the 2023 Kentucky Derby have scratched from the field.

Practical Move, Lord Miles, Continuar, Skinner and Forte are all out of the Run for the Roses. Lord Miles’ scratch comes as a result of trainer Saffie Joseph Jr.’s indefinite suspension from Churchill Downs amid investigations into the deaths of two of his other horses, announced by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and the Board of Stewards on Thursday.

Meanwhile, seven horses have died at Churchill Downs since April 27.

more: When is the Kentucky Derby? Here’s your complete guide to the 2023 race

Here’s what we know about the recent horse ailments at Churchill Downs:

Which horses died at Churchill Downs before the 2023 Kentucky Derby?

A seventh horse, Freezing Point, died ahead of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. The horse pulled up along the back stretch of the dirt track during the eighth race of the day.

The horse was quickly loaded into an equine ambulance and vanned away for medical attention and was later euthanized, NBC announcers said on the national Derby broadcast.

Another horse, Chloe’s Dream, was euthanized following a right front knee injury in the day’s second race.

Derby hopeful Wild On Ice had to be euthanized after a training accident April 27.

The Texas-bred horse suffered a left hind leg fracture and was euthanized upon further evaluation and transportation to a Lexington equine surgical facility.

Six non-Derby hopefuls have also died, the first being 3-year-old filly Take Charge Briana. A “catastrophic injury” suffered in Tuesday’s fifth race led to her being euthanized.

Code of Kings suffered a broken neck Saturday when, as trainer Tim Glyshaw told the Daily Racing Form, the maiden 3-year-old gelding became fixed on party lights at a DJ booth positioned near the Churchill Downs paddock and flipped multiple times. He was rushed to an equine clinic where he was eventually euthanized.

Chloe’s Dream was vanned off following Race 2 and was euthanized, according to CBS Sports.

Two Joseph-trained horses both collapsed and died under similar circumstances. The former was Parents Pride after April 29’s eighth race, and the latter was Chasing Artie after Tuesday’s eighth race.

Churchill Downs called the deaths of Parents Pride and Chasing Artie “highly unusual” and rationalized Joseph’s subsequent suspension with a call for utmost caution.

Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr.  at Churchill Downs Thursday May 4, 2023, in Louisville, Ky.  Joseph has Lord Miles in Saturday's Kentucky Derby.  Two of Joseph's horses, Parents Pride and Chasing Artie, have died since Churchill Downs'  opening night of Kentucky Derby Week.

Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. at Churchill Downs Thursday May 4, 2023, in Louisville, Ky. Joseph has Lord Miles in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby. Two of Joseph’s horses, Parents Pride and Chasing Artie, have died since Churchill Downs’ opening night of Kentucky Derby Week.

“Given the unexplained sudden death, we have reasonable concerns about the condition of his horses and decided to suspend him indefinitely until the details are analyzed and understood,” said Bill Mudd, President and Chief Operating Officer of Churchill Downs Inc. “The safety of our equines and human athletes and the integrity of our sport is our highest priority. We feel these measures are our duty and responsibility.”

“Something’s not right,” Joseph said. “These horses, it wasn’t because of injury. They left the gate and didn’t even try and then dropped down. … Theories aren’t going to help. We need facts.”

Joseph said Parents Pride and Chasing Artie had been stabled at Keeneland before shipping to Churchill Downs. Before the KHRC’s ruling Thursday afternoon, Joseph had scratched several horses set to run Thursday, Friday and Saturday who had also been stabled at Keeneland before shipping to Churchill.

“If there is something going on over there like contamination — or we don’t know what it is — some virus or something, we don’t know,” Joseph said Thursday morning. “We have no answers. I mean, there’s a lot of questions. There’s a lot of thoughts, but there’s nothing right now.”

Why was Forte scratched hours before the 2023 Kentucky Derby?

Kentucky Derby contender Forte breezes during a Friday morning workout at Churchill Downs on Oaks Day May 5, 2023, in Louisville, Ky.  The horse is trained by Todd Pletcher.

Kentucky Derby contender Forte breezes during a Friday morning workout at Churchill Downs on Oaks Day May 5, 2023, in Louisville, Ky. The horse is trained by Todd Pletcher.

Forte owner Mike Repole said the decision to scratch the horse was made by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission veterinarian Nick Smith because of concerns about a bruised right front foot.

Why did Skinner scratch from the Kentucky Derby?

Kentucky Derby contender Skinner during a work out Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs May 3, 2023, in Louisville, Ky.

Kentucky Derby contender Skinner during a work out Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs May 3, 2023, in Louisville, Ky.

The most recent scratch in the Derby field is Skinner, himself a scratch replacement after Derby contender Wild On Ice was euthanized last week.

The John Shirreffs-trained Skinner was removed from the race Friday morning due to an elevated temperature.

The already dwindling field will not get a replacement for Skinner seeing as Friday’s 9 am deadline has passed. Skinner was set for post position No. 9 in the Derby.

Why did Continuar scratch from the Derby?

Assistant trainer Takahide Ando worked Continuar Wednesday April 25, 2023 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

Assistant trainer Takahide Ando worked Continuar Wednesday April 25, 2023 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

Continuar narrowed the Japanese entries in the Derby from three to two horses with his scratch Thursday evening.

An invite via the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby, Continuar was scratched by trainer Yoshito Yahagi after he said he felt his 3-year-old was unable “to reach the peak fitness required” to race in the Derby.

“Considering the future of the horse and the fact that we cannot show the horse’s true ability in its current state, we have decided to scratch Continuar from the Kentucky Derby,” Yahagi said.

King Russell, trained by Ron Moquett, moves into the race at the No. 20 spots.

Why did Lord Miles scratch from the Derby?

Lord Miles and jockey Paco Lopez win the Wood Memorial on April 8 at Aqueduct.

Lord Miles and jockey Paco Lopez win the Wood Memorial on April 8 at Aqueduct.

The non-injury scratch from Saturday’s Derby is Wood Memorial winner Lord Miles, trained by Joseph. The horse was scratched as a result of Joseph’s suspension Thursday afternoon.

“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 news release. “This action was taken after consultation with Mr. Joseph and includes Lord Miles, who was entered into the 149th running of the Kentucky Derby.”

Two of the four horses that died at Churchill Downs this past week were trained by Joseph.

Mandarin Hero, trained by Derby first-timer Hiroaki Arai, takes Lord Miles’ spot in the field. Mandarin Hero will take the No. 19 spots in the Derby.

Why did Practical Move scratch from the Derby?

Kentucky Derby contender Practical Move inside his stall on Monday at Churchill Downs Monday morning May 1, 2023, in Louisville, Ky.  May 6, 2023. The colt is trained by the Yakteen Team.

Kentucky Derby contender Practical Move inside his stall on Monday at Churchill Downs Monday morning May 1, 2023, in Louisville, Ky. May 6, 2023. The colt is trained by the Yakteen Team.

Winner of the Santa Anita Derby and a Tim Yakteen trainee, Practical Move was scratched from the Derby field Thursday morning with an elevated temperature.

Practical Move was the co-fourth choice with Derma Sotogake at 10-1 odds in the Kentucky Derby morning line.

Cyclone Mischief, trained by Louisville’s Dale Romans, will replace Practical Move, taking the No. 18 post positions in Saturday’s race.

Kentucky Derby 2023 pre-race reading

Reach reporter Caleb Wiegandt at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @CalebWiegandt. Reporters Jason Frakes and CL Brown contributed.

This article originally appeared on the Louisville Courier Journal: Horses that died, scratched at Churchill Downs before the Kentucky Derby