Churchill Downs Inc. (CDI) announced that live horse racing will return in September after a temporary suspension to conduct an internal safety review.
Racing at the famed racecourse, home of the Kentucky Derby, took a hiatus on June 7 and moved to Ellis Park, a track also owned by CDI. In a news release, CDI said racing would start again on Sept. 14.
CDI implementing new safety protocols
In a statement, Bill Carstanjen, CEO of CDI, said:
“We are excited to resume live racing again at Churchill Downs. Our commitment to safety remains paramount as we enter this September meet and our participants, fans and the public can be assured that we will continue to investigate, evaluate and improve upon every policy and protocol.”
After an evaluation of existing safety protocols, CDI said it had implemented new practices to protect the well-being of horses and humans.
Key elements include:
- Infrastructure Upgrades: The racetrack has invested in additional new surface maintenance equipment and committed to doubling the frequency of surface testing.
- Increased Veterinary Oversight: Additional resources will be added to CDI’s highly qualified veterinary team to provide additional monitoring and specialized care for horses and assist in pre-race inspections and entry screening.
- Collaboration with Industry Experts: Work will continue with the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) and other industry experts to predict at-risk horses using up-to-date data and advanced analytic techniques.
- Establish Safety Management Committee: Formation of safety committee. Committee will consist of horsemen designees, racetrack employees, and veterinarians. Committee will discuss concerns and observations to provide real-time feedback on areas of improvement.
Review finds no issues with track
In June, a dozen horses died at CDI, with eleven being euthanized due to track injuries. After the temporary closure, all races shifted to Ellis Park in Henderson, Kentucky.
At the time, Carstanjen said:
“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.”
According to the CDI news release, an analysis by multiple leading industry experts found no issues with the racing surfaces.