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Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI), best known as the home of the Kentucky Derby, has temporarily halted all racing activities. The suspension follows an unfortunate series of events leading to the death of twelve horses over the past month.

Source: NBC News/Youtube

The reason behind this tragic string of fatalities remains unknown, as investigations have not identified a single cause or discernible pattern. Moreover, expert evaluations haven’t indicated any surface issues with the racetrack. Even so, CDI has announced an internal review of safety protocols and surface conditions while external probes are carried out by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority.

CDI’s CEO, Bill Carstanjen, described the incidents as “deeply upsetting and absolutely unacceptable,” emphasizing the need for a comprehensive review to strengthen their safety, surface, and integrity protocols.

While the spring meet is in progress, the suspension will take effect from June 7 through July 3. Churchill Downs has coordinated a relocation of the event to Ellis Park in Henderson, Kentucky, beginning this weekend, to minimize disruption to the thoroughbred industry, which Carstanjen notes is the economic engine providing jobs and income for thousands of families.

Despite these measures, the decision has sparked criticism from Animal rights groups such as PETA. Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo voiced concern that merely moving the races to another location might merely shift the problem. She urged tracks to install synthetic surfaces, use CT scanning equipment to detect injuries, and make other improvements.

In light of these events, it’s imperative to reaffirm our commitment to animal welfare and demand transparency and progress from the racing industry. While we appreciate the beauty and excitement of these races, we must also ensure the safety and well-being of these majestic creatures. Consider using your voice and platform to promote sustainable, safe practices within horse racing. The sport we love must never compromise the lives of its beautiful athletes.

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