A quartet of horse deaths has cast a damper ahead of this weekend’s Kentucky Derby.
The deaths are all unexplainable and trainer Saffie Joseph cut a befuddled figure on the back of two of his trainees dying in a matter of days.
“It shatters me,” Joseph admitted, per Sports Illustrated. “The odds of that happening twice, it doesn’t add up. Theories aren’t going to help anything. We need facts. … Twice, in three days? First two runners [of the Churchill spring meet]? Same owner [Ken Ramsey]? It’s mind-boggling.”
The four horses have died in separate incidents over five days, with two succumbing to leg breakdowns, as well as the aforementioned pair.
Last Thursday, Joel Marr-trained Wild on Ice suffered a hind leg injury that proved to be fatal. Parents Pride, trained by Joseph, met its end after the eighth race on Churchhill’s opening night last Saturday. Take Charge Briana, a filly trained by the legendary D. Wayne Lukas, collapsed during a turf race on Tuesday and was subsequently put down. Chasing Artie would also fall and die thereafter.
Joseph indicated he was considering pulling his other horses out of the competition while he waits on autopsy results for the two dead horses.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” he said. “I have to decide whether we’re going to scratch them or not. I’m very uneasy right now.”
Of course, such incidents are likely to lead to speculation over performance-enhancing drugs. In Joseph’s case, the trainer was hit with a 15-day suspension from the Pennsylvania State Horse Racing Commission back in March after trainee Artie’s Princess tested positive for gabapentin in September.
The drug is an anticonvulsant used to treat musculoskeletal pain.
Joseph has since appealed the ruling.WANT MORE FROM TOTALPROSPORTS? FOLLOW US ON GOOGLE NEWS.