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Several horses pulled from races amid investigation into deaths ahead of Kentucky Derby

J. Tyler Franklin
Several horses have been pulled from races at Churchill Downs.

After two sudden deaths, all horses trained by Saffie Joseph, Jr. have been pulled from races, including a Kentucky Derby horse.

All horses trained by Saffie Joseph, Jr. have been pulled from races until further notice, according to a statement from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Thursday.

Joseph also trained Lord Miles, who was slated to run in the Kentucky Derby this weekend and has now been pulled. Mandarin Hero will take his place.

Joseph trained two of the four horses that have died in the week leading up to the Derby. Parents Pride and Chasing Artie suddenly collapsed after their respective races this week and died.

Sudden deaths are exceedingly rare and the causes are often hard to discern, experts say. According to a 2022 study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, about 0.013% of all race starts end in a sudden death.

Joseph withdrew one horse, Accomplished Girl, from a race at Churchill Downs Wednesday and two more entries on Thursday and Friday were also withdrawn. Seven horses were scratched for Derby Day, including Lord Miles.

The horses that died were taken to the University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Lab for necropsies, and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission said it is investigating the deaths.

Sylvia is the Capitol reporter for Kentucky Public Radio, a collaboration including Louisville Public Media, WEKU-Richmond, WKU Public Radio and WKMS-Murray. Email her at sgoodman@lpm.org.

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