Churchill Downs, the famed racecourse, made the decision to cease racing operations on Wednesday. The remaining part of the spring meet will be shifted to Ellis Park.
With this move, Churchill Downs was dedicated to addressing and resolving any potential issues, given the 12 horse fatalities that had occurred at the site of the Kentucky Derby in the previous month. The organization wants to make horse racing a safer environment for everyone involved, therefore it is temporarily moving the spring meet and putting more of an emphasis on safety procedures.
CEO of Churchill Downs, Bill Carstanjen in a press release said, “What has happened at our track is deeply upsetting and absolutely unacceptable”,”We need to take more time to conduct a top-to-bottom review of all of the details and circumstances so that we can further strengthen our surface, safety, and integrity protocols”, he also added.
The decision is intended to provide an easy transition of the race schedule, ensuring less disturbance for both competitors and spectators. Ellis Park’s meet will start earlier than expected. It was originally intended to start on July 7, four days after Churchill Downs’ final race. The meet at Ellis Park will continue over its intended conclusion date of August 27 as a result of this announcement.
The action was taken a day after Churchill Downs’ track superintendent Dennis Moore completed a second independent examination of the facility’s racing and training surfaces as part of an emergency summit with the track and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission that the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) called this week.
Churchill Downs’ also cleared that they are working with HISA and on the recommendation to suspend meet to get spare time for the probe. HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus said, “We appreciate their thoughtfulness and cooperation through these challenging moments”, “We will continue to seek answers and work with everyone involved to ensure that horses are running safely at Churchill Downs again in the near future.”