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‘Emergency summit’ on Churchill Downs horse deaths underway in Lexington

After the deaths of 12 horses at Churchill Downs this month, an 'emergency summit' began Tuesday to find out why so many horses died or suffer injuries leading them being put down.
KY Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet
After the deaths of 12 horses at Churchill Downs this season, an "emergency summit" began Tuesday to find out why so many horses died or suffered injuries leading them being put down.

After the deaths of a dozen horses at Churchill Downs in less than a month, the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority — or HISA — is holding an emergency summit at its headquarters in Lexington.

In a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Lisa Lazarus, HISA’s chief executive officer, said the results of the necropsies of all 12 horses aren’t in yet.

“But they will use whatever they have at their disposal, and determine whether or not there's anything missing, particularly like training records or veterinary records that preceded the horse racing of the track,” Lazarus said.

In response to a reporter’s question, Lazarus said HISA does not have the authority to halt racing at Churchill, but they can keep the track from exporting their signal to other tracks. Lazarus said she’s confident they’ll get the information they need to make the proper recommendation.

“We have the best people in place with the greatest amount of access and knowledge to kind of come together which is why we have this summit to make the right decision going forward. And so I really trust this group implicitly,” she said.

Churchill’s spring meet resumes Thursday. Lazarus said she believes if the investigation concludes that racing at Churchill should be halted, track officials would do so.

John McGary