The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) will hold an emergency summit with Churchill Downs on Tuesday after 12 horses died in the past month. While the horses did not all die the same way, the number of fatalities has been concerning enough for the safety group to call an emergency convention.
"HISA's highest priority is the safety and wellbeing of the horses and riders competing under its jurisdiction. We remain deeply concerned by the unusually high number of equine fatalities at Churchill Downs over the last several weeks," reads a statement released Monday. "We continue to seek answers, and we are working diligently with Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) to mitigate any additional risk."
HISA is conducting a "thorough and independent investigation of each fatality" and taking additional measures to ensure the safety of the horses at the track that has been the home of the Kentucky Derby since 1875.
On Tuesday, there will be an emergency veterinary summit held in Kentucky. Churchill Downs, KHRC and HISA veterinary teams will review information available and conduct additional analysis. Director of Equine Safety and Welfare, Dr. Jennifer Durenberger will also "provide additional veterinary expertise and observation on site at Churchill Downs to ensure optimal veterinary oversight of the horses."
Seasoned track superintendent Dennis Moore has been sent to the facility to provide a second and independent analysis of the racing and training surfaces at the famous Louisville track. That review will start on Wednesday. HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus and Racetrack Safety Director Ann McGovern will travel to Churchill Downs to look at the results and also consider any suggested follow-up measures.
"HISA continues to monitor this situation closely and will evaluate any additional next steps as appropriate," read the organization's statement.
The first five fatalities happened in the week leading up to the 149th Kentucky Derby.
The two most recent deaths were 7-year-olds Lost in Limbo and Mare Kimberly Dream, who were euthanized on Friday and Saturday, respectively, due to "inoperable and unrecoverable" injuries.