Nine horses have died at the iconic Churchill Downs in less than a month.
Racehorse Swanson Lake suffered a “significant” injury to her left hind leg after placing fourth in the $120,000 race at the famed Louisville track. The injured animal was taken off the track in a van. After being examined by veterinarians, Swanson Lake was euthanized.
Swanson Lake, a 3-year-old filly, is the ninth horse to die at Churchill Downs since April 27, including a 10-day period when seven horses died from injuries or collapsing on the racetrack, according to Fox News.
One of the horses who died, Wild on Ice, was supposed to compete in the Kentucky Derby on May 6. The 149th Kentucky Derby was won by a chestnut colt from Kentucky named Mage.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo said in a statement on May 6, “Churchill Downs is a killing field.”
Guillermo added, “They should play ‘Taps’ at the Derby instead of ‘My Old Kentucky Home.'”
Meanwhile, notable racehorse trainer Bob Baffert returned on Saturday from his suspension after one of his horses tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
Baffert’s horse named Havnameltdown suffered a “non-operable left fore fetlock” injury during Saturday’s Preakness Stakes undercard at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. Havnameltdown was euthanized on the track following the devastating injury.
The Washington Post previously reported in 2021 that at least 74 horses have died in Baffert’s care since 2000.
Guillermo issued a PETA comment on Baffert’s horse dying:
Pimlico should have followed Churchill Downs’ example and barred Bob Baffert from the track. Baffert has been implicated in drugging scandals and the deaths of seven horses who collapsed in California, and at least 75 horses in his care have died. The tragic death of Havnameltdown is the latest in a long line of fatalities. The racing industry must kick out the bad guys or it will have blood on its hands as well as blood on its tracks.
However, the Baffert-trained horse named National Treasure won the Preakness Stakes on Saturday. The victory marked Baffert’s 17th Triple Crown win and eighth at the Preakness.
“We had a horrible race and we’ve just been really totally wiped out after that horse got hurt,” Baffert said after the race. “It’s been a very emotional day.”
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