Before the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, two more horses died, bringing the total to seven. Chloe’s Dream, a 3-year-old gelding, and Freezing Point, a 3-year-old colt, sustained injuries during their races on the Derby undercard, becoming the sixth and seventh horses to have died at Churchill Downs in recent days.
In addition to the horse deaths, early favorite Forte was scratched from the race due to an injury, adding to the series of blows that have hit the sport of horse racing in recent times, including doping suspensions and breakdowns. Mike Repole, co-owner of Forte, acknowledged the harsh reality of horse racing, stating in an interview with FanDuel TV, “This is part of racing, and it’s the cruel part.”
The run-up to the $3 million race for 3-year-olds has been marred by a total of five horses being scratched from the Derby. These incidents have cast a somber mood for some Derby-goers on what was a mostly cloudy and warm day.
The track indefinitely suspended Saffie Joseph Jr., the trainer of two of the horses that died, although investigators have yet to determine a cause for their deaths. Racegoer Joe Conforto, who was wearing jockey goggles and a stuffed horse on his head, said he doesn’t like to see horses get euthanized but thinks most racehorses are taken better care of than human beings.
Recently, four horses were scratched due to various reasons, including fevers and not being in peak condition. Forte, last year’s 2-year-old champion with a five-race winning streak, would have been eligible for the first Saturday in May only once in his life, and Repole said he feels bad for the horse.