Yet another horse will not be running in Saturday’s 149th Kentucky Derby.
Skinner, the third-place finisher in the Santa Anita Derby, on Friday became the fourth horse in three days to exit the race. The scratches come on the heels of four horses dying at Churchill Downs in recent races. Earlier in the week, Churchill Downs suspended trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. from the Derby after the sudden death of two of his horses at the track.
Joseph’s suspension prohibits any trainer, directly or indirectly employed by him, from entering horses in races or applying for stalls at all Churchill Downs-owned tracks.
Joseph’s horse, Lord Miles, was also scratched from Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, which will, for now, be run with 19 horses.
The four horses out of Saturday’s race are:
- Lord Miles
- Practical Move
Cyclone Mischief, Mandarin Hero and King Russell have been added to the field to replace the four scratches.
Suspension shakes up Kentucky Derby
As mentioned in the PlayUSA 2023 Kentucky Derby Betting Guide, the last few Derbys have been chaotic, and this year’s race will keep the trend alive.
After the deaths of Parents Pride and Chasing Artie, Churchill Downs president and CEO Bill Mudd released the following statement on Joseph:
“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. 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.”
Speaking with the Associated Press, Mike Repole, co-owner of Derby favorite Forte, said, “This is the worst part of the game.”
“It’s very sad,” Repole said.
Full investigation underway
Joseph, a third-generation trainer, said investigators did everything from checking veterinary records to taking blood samples from each horse, which showed nothing abnormal.
“They found no wrongdoing on our part,” Joseph said.
“There’s two ways: You can run away from it and pretend it didn’t happen or you could face it and find out what we can do.”
Other horses scratched from Derby
Continuar, one of the Japanese horses in the Derby, was the third horse to scratch from the race.
In a statement, trainer Yoshito Yahagi said:
“Considering the future of the horse and the fact that we cannot show the horse’s true ability in his current state, we have decided to scratch Continuar from the Kentucky Derby.
I am very sorry that I cannot participate in the world’s number one horse racing festival. However, I sincerely hope to return to the Derby in the future. I want to thank everyone who has supported Continuar and Yahagi Stable on this journey.”
On Thursday, trainer Tim Yakteen removed Practical Move from the competition, saying the horse had a fever.
Churchill Downs said the last time four horses scratched from the Derby was in 2015, according to the Daily Racing Form.